Celebrating Earth Day With Recycleart

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The Elementary School at Chewonki celebrated Earth Week with a smorgasbord of activities, including learning about Chewonki’s energy systems and composting toilets film screenings, a visit to the Wiscasset Transfer Station,  farm work, and earth songs. One highlight involved picking up trash and transforming it into playful, colorful works of art. An octopus, a giant turtle with flowers on its shell, and a “waterfall without water,” as one student described it, all made from garbage, now brighten the woods along the main boardwalk, surprising passers-by.

To begin their Recycleart project, students and teachers on Monday morning dressed in wild costumes and gathered trash along Chewonki Neck’s points and around the dumpsters near the barn, where the wind tends to carries bits and pieces of paper and plastic into the nearby bushes and trees.

“Our campus and shoreline trash cleanup was a huge success,” reported Head of School Kat Cassidy. Among the photos from the morning is one of Teaching Assistant Drew Perlmutter looking very muddy. “Drew looks like this because she wrestled a large, slimy rug all the way back from Ideal Point like a champ,” explained Cassidy. “Costumes rocked and there were many unique and interesting trash finds (notable: Ruth Bader Ginsburg mint container, a large chair, 4 pairs of socks, and a Havahart trap).”

The group properly disposed of what was unusable but soon discovered that what looks like trash to one person may look like potential to another. Students saved some of their finds as raw materials for fabricating works of art on Thursday morning.  Following Art Teacher Coreysha Stone’s guidance, they spread their trashy finds in front of them and asked “What do I see? Are there any items that remind [me] of something from nature? Animals? Plants?”–interesting questions to apply to random man-made stuff that would otherwise be deemed useless.

Students took a full minute (a long time for people this age) to think quietly before sketching a proposal to share with the rest of their group. Each of the three groups then discussed the ideas and decided on a course of action, collaborating to create their final works. The three Recyleart masterpieces are making the walk from one side of campus to the other a truly trashy adventure.

Until they move on to the Wiscasset Transfer Station, these creations are also a reminder that far too much human-made material is ending up in the environment. Please do some spring cleaning by picking up trash where you live. Good stewardship means stronger communities–and maybe even art.

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