Youth artists create moving-messages
to promote composting
We love the challenge of solving problems, especially when we are co-creating solutions with kids!
Last spring, we piloted our first After School ARTS+ACTION program at PS 167 The Parkway School (Crown Heights, Brooklyn). The school's fabulous eco-artists learned the "why" and the "how" of recycling & composting, then were delighted to paint their original eco-messages right onto the school's compost totes (aka, bins with wheels). The boring brown totes were transformed with bold student designs. Wheeled to the curbside each afternoon, the art and messages are shared with the neighboring community.
But there's more to painting totes than beautifying the curbside, sharing eco-messages, and taking kids' art to the streets.
The NYC School Organics (composting) Program recently expanded from 60 schools to over 400, with plans to accommodate all 1,800 public schools. The cafeteria lunch period, however, is full of challenges for achieving proper sorting and ensuring program success. Due to limited cafeteria staff, few educational components, and lack of kid appealing signage and incentives, the end-of-lunch contents of the compost totes often look identical to that of the trash bins.
The bright paintings on the totes help students and staff to take notice, reminding everyone to correctly sort food scraps and organics.
Additionally, curbside theft of these new totes is a growing problem. By transforming the totes with not-to-be-missed bright artwork, we hope to discourage thieves from wheeling them off of school property.
Our team has spent thousands of hours teaching students and working with school staff on garbage reduction initiatives. We are constantly piloting new ways of engaging entire school communities, improving cafeteria recycling, composting, & sorting procedures, and optimizing design. We are also testing new methods of co-creating media & messaging with youth on the environmental injustice of NYC’s 11,000 tons of school and home garbage generated daily and its inextricable link to climate change.
A HUGE THANKS to AWESOME FOUNDATION NYC and NYC City Councilmember (now NYC Public Advocate) Letitia James, for supporting this project.
Learn more about our ARTS+ACTION School Program.
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