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PuertoRicoWOW News Service

Young Creative Minds Help Save The Planet Through Art

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin

April 22, 2001
Copyright © 2001 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved.


Young Puerto Rican students show off their art pieces that will be submitted to the Basurarte contest. They agreed that Basurarte helps people become more aware of the importance of protecting the environment.


Roberto Marquez and Jose Rivera are not saviors of the world. However, their creative minds and artistic talents may have just turned them into two of Planet Earth's newest friends.

Marquez,18, and Rivera, 24, are two of several youths participating in the Basurarte (Trashart) contest sponsored by the Pro-Recycling Industry and Commerce (ICPRO by its Spanish acronym) to promote the use of discarded materials to create works of art, thus helping to reduce solid waste and preserve the environment.

Although the contest, which also gives high school and college students the chance to express their creativity through art, is not part of any event marking the Earth Day celebration, which is celebrated April 22, it gives young people the means to help change the world a little, while at the same time, promoting the idea of recycling and reusing discarded materials as ways of protecting the environment.

"We want to differentiate reusing from recycling. About 5% of landfill material can be reused. This may not be much, but if it's summed up to the 18% of recycled material in Puerto Rico, it can make a difference," said ICPRO Executive Director Javier Laureano.

Following that same line of thought, Marquez and Rivera created their own works of art with materials that were destined for the garbage can.

"One day, we were at one of our workshops, and I spotted this old toy horse and told the others that it could be used to create a work of art," said Rivera, who added that the two of them, together with their friend Brian Rivera, will submit the piece titled "diversionarte" to the contest as a team effort.

For his part, Marquez said the satisfaction of creating a piece of art, "regardless of whether it comes out right," was what made him create his piece titled "Where do we go." His piece consists of two wheelchairs strapped together back to back.

Both Rivera and Marquez said their pieces were created not because of the contest, but out of their own urge to express themselves through art. For his part, Rivera said the concept behind Basurarte was already part of his life.

"Our minds are already open to the idea of using any material to create a work of art to express ideas and things," Rivera said.

Already in his third year of college majoring in painting at the Plastic Art School of San Juan, Rivera said he visualizes himself not only as a painter, but as an artist in all art techniques such as graphic art and sculpting.

For his part, Marquez, who is in his first year and is also set on completing a B.A. in painting, said he doesn't see himself limiting his work only to paintings.

"Just like [Pablo] Picasso, [who was a painter] he was able to recreate the face of a bull using the seat and the handle of a bicycle," Marquez said.

Marquez also said Basurarte helped him become more aware of the importance of protecting the environment.

Laureano said as part of their efforts to promote recycling and other environmentally safe ways of waste disposal during Recycling Month, ICPRO will sponsor the "Recyclaton" at the Aquaexpreso on April 28. The event, which is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., invites the public to bring along all recyclable materials, such as paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass. Each person will have the opportunity to receive in return ICPRO T-shirts, Inter American University coolers, McDonald's sunglasses, Pepsi baseball caps or pens.

Laureano also said ICPRO will have a week-long recycling exhibition starting next week at San Patricio Plaza.

According to the most recent numbers provided by the Solid Waste Administration (SWA), approximately 18% of the solid waste in Puerto Rico was being recycled, and about 8,569 tons of solid waste a day had been generated in 1998.

Unlike the past administration, Gov. Sila Calderon's government doesn't promote the use of incinerators as a way of solid waste disposal. According to the SWA executive director, the current administration will focus on promoting recycling projects and legislation providing more economic incentives for the recycling industry, as well as increasing the population's participation in recycling and reusing efforts.

For his part, Laureano hopes that the current administration will eventually legislate to establish a fee for the collection of recyclable products in residential areas as a means to help each municipality cover the costs of providing that service.

"Adhesive ties of different colors could be sold at supermarkets or drug stores, and people could buy them for, let's say, 75 cents. The ties would then be used to identify the bags with different types of recyclable products, so when the trucks come by the houses, they will know which ones to collect," said Laureano, who added that such a system would help people become more aware of how much waste they generate.

For more information on Basurarte or recycling projects, please call ICPRO at (787) 722-3565.

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