We were absolutely thrilled that our Floral wheelbarrow was voted First Place at the RHS show at Cardiff from 16th - 18th April 2010. You can see the presentation of the certificate and £100 prize money by the sponsors Legal & General at Millbank here.
All schools across South Wales had been invited to take part again and 60 schools took up the challenge this year with a real high standard of entry. Green Gang had been doing lots of work on plastic recycling and the children chose to use that as our theme. Of course the great thing about a recycling theme is that we did not have to spend a penny on the display!
The RHS Cardiff show gets better and better each year, and we were lucky with the weather this year too. There has been a wonderful effort from the parks department who do some great displays throughout the city. Because of the Easter holidays the wheelbarrow had to be put together in just 2 days before it was collected so we decide that the best way forward was placing lots of small sculptures made by the children all round the wheelbarrow with an elephant in the middle, because of the rules on height (60cm above height of soil) we changed that to 'Rory' our dinosaur who better suited the constraints.
Our message was to highlight the poor recycling rates for plastic. The bottles spelt out the 'Reduce, Reuse and Recycle' on 3 of the sides, albeit hidden behind the flowers. We encouraged people to make their own milk bottle sculptures and in doing so consider the packaging that they inadvertently buy with most commodities. Rhiân from Green Gang said ”In the UK just 10% of plastic gets recycled, that is a terrible waste of resources and a big problem for pollution.”
To be honest because of the gray colour of the plastic we really did not think that people would 'get' the sculptures unless they were brightly painted or coloured, yet disguising or hiding them went against what we were trying to do. We stuck to our principles, Rhiân adding “It does not matter if we win the wheelbarrow competition or not but if we encourage people to recycle more plastic then the whole planet is a winner.” but it was very nice to win too!
A lot of people said they would have a go at making the sculptures themselves.
Why not have a go yourself at some of the sculptures, masks and pots that the children have made from HDPE milk cartons. The children and school are not copyrighting their deigns or anything, they want as many people to make them and think about the issue of plastic packaging.
Plastics are wonderful materials the main problem with them is that we are not effectively recycling them, just 10% recycling is pretty poor effort. Councils are a bit reluctant to say how much of their plastic is able to be effectively recycled often it is so contaminated it cannot be re-used in closed loop recycling. So even the little recycling we do in the UK is not done sustainability.
Green Gang have written and asked the major supermarket chains how much recycled HDPE is used in their milk cartons and their packaging, why not ask them yourself. If we all keep asking we can make a difference.