Congratulations to Graduate Students for Environmental Sustainability (GSES) who unveiled a Trash Art display in February highlighting excessive paper consumption at Queen's University. The exhibit consisted of a papier mache tree, including roots, leaves, and birds, constructed with discarded paper collected in the Biosciences Atrium. These materials were amassed from recycling bins over three days in January 2009, resulting in nearly 800 unread newspapers and countless other paper scraps to work with.
The GSES Trash Art display was inspired by the role that each of us plays in making our communities more sustainable as well as the need to emphasize how individual changes can grow to make significant differences. While trees are a renewable resource, the global paper industry accounts for 10% of GHG emissions. Furthermore, though paper recycling is very common, paper products still end up in landfills. Recycling is an important component of the three R's, but reducing and reusing are underutilized environmental principles that warrant more attention. GSES sought to promote the reduction of paper use on campus.
The tree was accompanied by an information display explaining the construction process, facts about the environmental impact of the paper industry, and ways to reduce individual paper use. A few easy methods include printing double sided, sharing newspapers, and reading articles and papers online. In the spirit of the message, this was a zero waste project, with all components of the tree and accompanying display reused, composted, or recycled.
Hundreds of students, faculty, and staff viewed the display while it remained in the Biosciences Atrium from February 11 - 14, 2009. The event was also reported on by the Kingston Whig-Standard, the Queen's Gazette, and Kingston EMC.
This was the third consecutive Trash Art event run by Queen's grad students in Environmental Studies and Biology. In 2007, a giant water bottle was constructed from discarded plastic bottles, and in 2008 a giant mug and donut were created using Tim Hortons packaging waste collected in the Biosciences Atrium. As with the past events, this project was supported by the School of Environmental Studies.