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.