Thai students turn trash to treasure to save local eco-system

Thai students turn trash to treasure to save local eco-system

The Baan Sillapin Artists Village in Hua Hin was buzzing recently about a novel way they found to help save a vital local mangrove eco-system - through rubbish.

School children and university students have been showing off their artistic flare to a big crowd at the inaugural "Trash to Treasure" art contest.

Organised by Webster University Thailand's Cha-Am campus, Trash to Treasure is intended as a green communication campaign,

It was established to support the rehabilitation, preservation and development of the Mangrove Ecosystem Preservation & Science Education Centre (MEPSEC) at Hua Hin.

The event highlights the need for sustainable development in the last remaining urban mangrove ecosystem in Hua Hin at Khao Klai Lart.

And where does the rubbish come in?

The students promote a fresh view of waste materials and responsible disposal behaviour among the local community, including schools and businesses.

Arin Wiriya-Aporn, one of several Thai communication students' working on the project, said: "We are a very diverse group from different countries and cultures from around the globe. Yet we all pulled together on an event that highlights an issue that really unites us in our concern for the survival of the planet. To do it in such a fun way made it even more relevant."

Hua Hin schools as well as art students from Webster University Thailand's Cha-am campus showcased artwork created solely from waste materials, discarded items and trash. The artwork, in a community exhibition and competition, was judged by professional artists with prizes for the winners - including cash and complimentary entries to the Vana Nava Water Jungle.

The judges' chairman, local artist Elizabeth Jorn, observed, "The creativity on display here was exceptional and the contestants really got the spirit of the brief."

The schools section was won by students from Halio School with a complex piece called 'Recycle City'. The university section winner was Webster University's group "Art Department" for their piece called 'Recycled Tank'.

Anita Orskov Larsen, an international exchange media communications student from Denmark, said, "When you plan something like this, it seems difficult to imagine that it will actually come off. For me the way that the whole class came together was as important as the event itself."

The campaign was a collaboration between the Preserve Hua Hin Group and Webster University Thailand's School of Communications' Special Events students - a volunteer group of international students from 10 different countries.

It was designed to build on the success of the Bye Bye Plastic event organised by the School of Communication from Webster University's campus in 2014.

Manop Sujaritpinij, a media communications professor at Webster University Cha-Am, said the most impressive thing about this event had been the enthusiasm and hard work of the schools and the students … and the guiding principles of the event.

"They have really understood that environmental awareness is something important for our future that can also be fun," he said.

Representing a main sponsor, Chiva-Som's Sustainable Development Manager, Brian Anderson, said, "I really cannot speak highly enough about what this event is achieving in terms of sustainable development, a concept we are totally committed to at Chiva-Som and the Preserve Hua Hin Group. It is all about getting people engaged in preserving the natural environment in a constructive way that includes and educates our community stakeholders about the need to live in harmony with nature. If we can do that in a fun and creative way, then all the better."

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