Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Earth Today | Basic school shows what’s possible with used plastics

Published:Thursday | May 25, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Spray paint is applied to the plastic bottles as a final touch in the creation of the canopy.
The completed canopy at Little Mount Olivet Basic School.

The 45 students and staff at Little Mount Olivet Basic School, along 100 Lane in Kingston, now have a shaded outdoor area for education and entertainment, thanks to some inspired thinking and 4,000 used plastic bottles.

"On a visit to Mount Olivet, the principal (Mahalia Gauze Shaw) indicated a need for shade. I believe that the inspiration to use plastic bottles came from God and He directed the project throughout," Kenneth Tucker, head of the mission and evangelism department at Bethel Baptist Church, told The Gleaner.

The project took six Saturdays over six months to complete. The support structure and paint were paid for by the church, while the bottles were sourced through a recycling project, also at the church, and labour provided by volunteers.

"From the onset, we wanted, in addition to providing shade for the school, to show the community an alternative to the reckless disposal of plastic bottles," Tucker said.

"It remains our hope that the canopy will provide a model of what is possible with used bottles. This could lead to the creativity we know exists in the community taking over and creating other projects, thus relieving the environment of this form of pollution," he added.

At the same time, the deacon said there is already talk that the school's graduation this year could take place under the new canopy, "apart from general shade for play and other outside events, such as sports day.

"The teachers can also give students a break and conduct classes outside occasionally," Tucker noted.

The school principal said she is thrilled with the results of the church's efforts and looks forward to the anticipated benefits.

"We really appreciate the canopy because we can use it not just for shade, but also when we want to take out the children. We can do story time and ring games under it," Shaw confirmed.

She added that the idea to use plastic bottles in this way was undoubtedly a good one.

"If we were to look at all those bottles going to waste elsewhere, it really would cause pollution. So having the canopy, and what it is made from, is a wonderful idea," Shaw said.