Save the oceans this Christmas
The Pearl Protectors on their virtual upcycled Christmas tree
By Venessa Anthony
It’s that time of the year where Christmas trees line every house, but it’s also a time of the year where a lot of wastage happens. Christmas decorations aren’t the most sustainable and eco-friendly items available out there. More often than not, they get damaged and need to be discarded almost each year. The Pearl Protectors got clever with their Christmas initiative; they chose to take one for Mother Earth and launch a virtual upcycled Christmas tree.
Upcycling is a great way to contribute to the environment and live a greener life. Upcycling, also known as “creative reuse”, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products perceived to be of greater quality, such as artistic value or environmental value.
The Morning Brunch spoke to The Pearl Protectors Co-ordinator Muditha Katuwawala about why upcycling is a better option than recycling, who said: “In Sri Lanka, recycling is not a good alternative because the percentage of recycling that is actually happening here is very low. The global recycling percentage is only at a mere 18%. So, the concept of recycling is not quite sustainable because you can’t keep on recycling the same item.”
He added that this was why The Pearl Protectors is adamant that the world reduce and resume plastic, but there will always be a large number of plastic consumed, so why not make something new out of it?
Speaking about the novel venture Katuwawala, he talked about how the idea behind the virtual upcycled Christmas tree came to be. “We’re trying to promote upcycling. We did a similar project last Vesak as well. For the last two years, we have been making a PET bottle Christmas tree; we collected plastic bottles from beaches after beach clean-ups and we made a 10-foot Christmas tree in Wellawatta. Unfortunately, we will not be able to do it this year due to the pandemic, so we came up with this concept instead. We want to celebrate the festive season in a creative and unique way.”
He went on to add that by 2020, they’d launched over 50 ventures in the name of protecting the world we live in. He reported that they have high hopes and lots of ideas on how to celebrate World Oceans Day next year, so keep an eye out on their Facebook page to see how you can help save the oceans too.
“At least eight million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year and make up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. We can make a difference in protecting our oceans by reducing this plastic waste,” Katuwawala said, adding that our marine animals are dying horrific deaths due to this issue, and a lot of them are slowly but surely becoming endangered or extinct.
It is our duty as citizens of the Earth to protect our home. The Pearl Protectors’ Christmas initiative is a fun, innovative way to start. He spoke of the convenience of upcycling products into Christmas decoration as it is super cost-effective since you’d be making the decor out of whatever items you have at home and also something anyone, regardless of age, could participate in, right from the comforts of their house.
“This is a good exercise for people under lockdown because kids stuck at home can engage in some productive activities, while also helping save the planet. This is a fun activity for those stuck in quarantine as well; all they have to do is collect all the plastic they are being given over the course of time and turn it into something beautiful.”
Katuwawala walked us through how one can participate in the creation of this virtual Christmas tree, explaining: “Use plastic waste items like plastic bags, PET bottles, plastic straws, plastic cutlery, plastic packaging, etc. and convert that into a Christmas decoration. Be creative in crafting/creating the upcycled decorations. Once complete, take a picture of the item and submit the image to firstname.lastname@example.org with the title ‘Upcycled Decoration’. The deadline for your submissions is 22 December 2020.”
Once all submissions are received, they are all put together to form a virtual Christmas tree. All participants will be recognised along with the Christmas tree, and special recognition will be given to participants who submit the most creative upcycled plastic decorations.”
This year, let’s try to celebrate the season as sustainably as possible.