Creating the best from recycled waste

Does “best” always come out of “waste”? Well, that’s the challenge a creative mind seeks to attain on his chosen route. Rehashing old, used and thrown-away items into a newer form is unarguably a remarkable idea to learn how to beautify and enhance yesterday’s things for today’s glorification from a better perspective.
Based on this premise, an art installation with waste objects is being currently held at Kolkata’s Harrington Street Arts Centre. The exhibition will remain open till July 20 from 2 pm to 7 pm. A host of non-profit organisations like Akshar, Kadam, Living Free, Earth Craft and Disha Foundation are participating in this unique display and sale of recycled articles under one umbrella. Offering a helping hand to this save-the-environment initiative is the Earth Day Work, whose consistent green activities are prominent across the country.
“We have put up a stall of bags under this roof to share the platform with the famous integrated school like Akshar and its rewarding endeavours to conserve a clean, green, pollution-free earth for tomorrow. Our eco-friendly bags are tagged with a double-edged purpose as it not only serves an alternative option to the use of plastic polypacks as a consumable product, but also offers an extra incentive to uplift the needy, underprivileged women from the weaker sections of society who have tailored and stitched the jholas under a self-help group banner. So there’s a charitable cause also involved in this project. Even those oppressed women who were once trafficked and tortured are now finding a healthy means of living by earning their wages through the sewing machines. Skilled in their craft, the seamstresses can convert a set of old clothes into an array of nice, cosy cloth-bags, right on the spot,” elucidates Debapriya Dutt of Earth Day Network (EDN).
The EDN also plans to carry forward this noble endeavour to large malls, housing complexes and different educational institutions.
Made out of torn and tattered cloth materials, shredded fabric, old saris and salwar kameezes, the bags of all shapes and sizes come in a wonderful variety of colours, cuts, designs and prints.
In the students’ zone where the reputed inclusive school of Akshar leads the charge with a bunch of pupils with special needs, lies a treasure-trove to watch out for.
These differently-abled children are so innately talented and so well-groomed that it is difficult to detect their impairment at first glance, if any. “Be it visual, physical or mental, no blockage is powerful enough to impede a person’s strong-willed determination to overcome the outward deficit,” espouses Neena Singh, the director of Akshar.
Terming their drive as “conservation crusaders”, the school lays emphasis on teaching beyond the course curriculum. “We always design our classroom lectures in such a way that it helps keeping the attentive students a step ahead of the prescribed text books. If there is some natural disaster hitting the planet anywhere on the global map, then the geography tutor will immediately highlight that event as it pertains to the subject. For example, the recent Himalayan tsunami in Uttarakhand and other adjoining areas was given an added focus in the geography lessons held during that particular week,” shares Singh.
Accumulating the children’s work in this exhibition, which was originally assigned as part of their summer vacation homework, the proud English teacher-cum-librarian Nandita Gupta says, “The bulk of work produced by the kids was so excellent in quality that we couldn’t just let it go without a public showcase. And the crowds that it has drawn from all quarters on the inaugural day itself, simply speaks volumes for the participating candidates’ outstanding efforts. We have a separate junk room inside the school building to store all the refused items, commonly dumped down in the rubbish bin. But we on the contrary had asked our girls and boys to collect such discarded items from their households, which have been in use for the past 15 years and have worn out, are broken, rusted or have faded away with time and bring the same to school so that together we can all rehash something new out of that trash.”
From extinct creatures like dodos and dinosaurs or the endangered species like vultures and toads crafted out of paper maches, egg trays, clay mounds and paints to shampoo containers, safety pins, clothesline clips, tin-cases, rubber sheets, Plaster of Paris, et al, the little children with their small, but potent hands have promisingly proved to carve the best out of waste.
Pradyum Agarwal, an aspiring shutterbug of Class 10 suggests that he is passionate about wildlife photography and is keen to pursue that hobby someday as a professional. He regularly
flips through wildlife magazines like the National Geographic. Exhibiting his snapshots at the gallery, this eagle-eyed observer of minute details rattles of: “I’ve visited the Bandhavgarh (Madhya Pradesh) forests where I could luckily spot the pug marks of tigers and have been able to capture them on my camera. I’m even fond of some rare species of Indian birds and love to freeze them on my frame. After our Class 7 final exams, I remember, we were taken to Delhi to take part in a photography workshop camp from our school. That triggered my interest in the craft. At that time, I happened to click some of the historical sites and monuments in the capital.”
While the Class 5 pupil V. Deepa enthuses: “This is a great learning experience as we get to interact with so many people at
this forum and are able to showcase our creative input as well. We are enjoying every bit of this moment.”

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