Clean­ing our

Re­gion’s

Island Life - - Island Shopping - Story by Dawn Gib­son

To mark In­ter­na­tional Coastal Clean-up Day, Fiji, to­gether with a num­ber of other is­land na­tions around the re­gion, took part in a huge coastal clean up cam­paign. The seawall ar­eas run­ning along Nasese, through Suva City and all the way to Lami area, wel­comed hun­dreds of vol­un­teers com­ing out to col­lect and sort rub­bish. The pro­ject, or­gan­ised by the US Em­bassy, IUCN (In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture) and MACBIO (Marine and Costal Bio­di­ver­sity Man- age­ment), also aims to es­tab­lish the ‘Waste-to-art’ ini­tia­tive where the rub­bish col­lected on the day is dis­trib­uted to dif­fer­ent schools to be turned into art­work pieces. Nakita Bing­ham from MACBIO ex­plained that one of the main fo­cuses of the waste-to-art ini­tia­tive was to high­light the abil­ity of small na­tions in the Pa­cific to man­age waste bet­ter. “Fiji’s con­sumer cul­ture is grow­ing rapidly and that means that more waste is be­ing gen­er­ated but the pub­lic doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily know how to dis­pose of it prop­erly,” Ms Bing­ham said. “There is a need for education and rais­ing aware­ness of pol­lu­tion, waste and the ef­fect it has on the en­vi­ron­ment, as well as so­lu­tions on how to best man­age the in­creas­ing non-or­ganic waste. Be­cause this is a sys­temic is­sue, the ini­tia­tive was con­cep­tu­alised to en­gage the pub­lic through joint col­lab­o­ra­tion with or­gan­i­sa­tions and lo­cal busi­nesses who sup­port green so­lu­tions to tackle sus­tain­abil­ity chal­lenges.” The con­cept of a beach clean-up is noth­ing new, how­ever what makes this ini­tia­tive dif­fer­ent is the gov­ern­mentlevel co­or­di­na­tion and sup­port of the pri­vate sec­tor. “We hope through par-

tic­i­pa­tion in the event, to raise a spirit of com­mu­nity and foster a sense of care for the en­vi­ron­ment. We want to pro­mote sus­tain­abil­ity and part of that is awak­en­ing the ecol­o­gist in all of us.” The ini­tia­tive to turn the col­lected waste into art fo­cused on the youth; sev­eral schools in Fiji are tak­ing part in the cre­ative work­shops to build art out of the waste col­lected dur­ing the day. “Waste is not sexy but we hope that by en­gag­ing the youth to cap­i­talise on rub­bish as a re­source, pro­mot­ing waste re­duc­tion, reusing, re­cy­cling and up­cy­cling waste, we are en­abling a new gen­er­a­tion of prob­lem solvers.” Art made from waste is a mostly unex- plored eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity that could have a size­able place within the mar­ket place while help­ing the en­vi­ron­ment along the way. Plas­tic for ex­am­ple, could be turned into purses, jew­ellery, and sou­venirs to be sold in mar­kets around the coun­try. In Van­u­atu, renowned French artist Sophie de Garam has been de­sign­ing and mak­ing jew­ellery from plas­tic that she finds on the beach for a long time. Her jew­ellery col­lec­tion is highly val­ued and sold across gal­leries world­wide, in­clud­ing Paris and New York. There is a great po­ten­tial for other artists and crafts peo­ple to re­al­ize the hid­den value both eco­nomic and eco­log­i­cal, in turn­ing what is con­sid­ered waste into a use­ful item. Pre­vi­ous page: A bat­tered man­grove stands on the beach at Suva. By Sophie Berthold, GIZ In­tern. This page top: Suva Gram­mar on duty dur­ing the beach cleanup day. By Ta­nara Truong. Below: Data card re­view. By Ta­nara Truong.

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