Eco-art and “green brainwashing”. How to distinguish?


“The true purpose of eco-art is twofold. First of all, it is intended to contribute to the fight against climate change and stopping the loss of biological diversity, to reduce the pollution created by humans. Therefore, a broken porcelain cup can become an ornament, old jeans – an apron, computer keyboard keys – earrings. The second purpose is educational. When creating eco-art, one learns more about essential environmental problems, and also encourages those around to behave more responsibly”, – Martynas Norbutas, head of the Lithuanian Youth Center, tells about eco-art.

Lithuanian Youth Center photo/Eco art

Basic principles

One of the fundamental principles of eco-art is not to create more pollution. Therefore, when creating it, almost no new materials or products are used, and nothing is created – which would have to be thrown away anyway.

“If we use new products during the creation of eco art, this is already “green brainwashing”. By the way, this happens in some schools. For example, when students receive the task of making something out of used disposable coffee cups, they take another tactic – they buy new cups from the store. This kind of behavior basically contradicts the nature of the above-mentioned art,” says Martynas, who implemented the Erasmus+ project “Waste processing with handmade products”.

Lithuanian Youth Center photo/Eco art

According to him, it is very important not to create art products that will end up in the trash anyway. The purpose of eco-art is not for one-time viewing. It’s about creating things that people actually need. “If you come to an eco art workshop and they show you how to make an item you don’t need – don’t make it. Just learn the principles and think about what else you can create from those materials”, says M. Norbutas.

The third aspect is not to spoil the recyclable materials. Eco-art makes sense when it is created from materials that can no longer be recycled, such as most textiles, ceramic shards, etc. Another way is to create from recyclable materials in such a way that even after creating a new item, it can be thrown into the container for recyclable waste.

“A common bad example is the use of different types of materials in eco-art. For example, paper is glued with plastic with hot glue, textiles are also added – we get a mix that is not recycled. So instead of sorting and giving the waste a second life, something is created that is only suitable for burning,” says Martynas.

Lithuanian Youth Center photo/Eco art

Lithuanian Youth Center photo/Eco art

Examples of eco art

Various examples of eco art from Turkey, Croatia, Lithuania and Spain were collected and included in the publication of the Erasmus+ project “Recycling waste with handmade products”. It can be downloaded here. It also contains information about various environmental problems, which is intended for both non-formal education activities and lessons in schools.

Even the works of several artists were exhibited during the project in an exhibition held in Castelló, Spain. In the public library of the town, it was possible to see the works of 12 foreign artists and dozens of works by residents of the town and surrounding areas.

Lithuanian Youth Center photo/Eco art

Lithuanian Youth Center photo/Eco art

The exhibition attracted a lot of interest from local people. It also exhibits the works of three artists from Lithuania. Milda Paukšta’s apron made from discarded jeans surprised the audience. A considerable number of visitors photographed it and were interested in how it could be sewn at home.

Visitors’ eyes were also drawn to Laura Petrushkė’s colorful shopping bag, which was made from unused, torn plastic bags.

The jewelry made from shards by the artist Eglė Gilė received detailed discussions. One of the residents of the local town admitted that he works with stone processing and mosaics in his spare time. Therefore, he himself began to show the visitors how to properly process the shards so that they become a tool for creating jewelry.

Lithuanian Youth Center photo/Eco art

Lithuanian Youth Center photo/Eco art

According to Martyn Norbut, waste is an excellent material for new creations. “Although our publication provides detailed instructions on how to make something, it is much more important to understand that waste is a material for something new and useful. There are many ways to use a particular material. Everyone can draw inspiration from others and come up with something unique”, says M. Norbutas.

The project is partially financed by the European Union through the implementation of the Erasmus+ project “Recycling of waste with handmade products”. The views or opinions expressed in the project are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor the EACEA can be held responsible for them.

The article is in Lithuanian

Tags: Ecoart green brainwashing distinguish


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