Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 7 July 2020

RAK environmentalist and eco-warrior children find creative uses for waste

The workshops help children unleash their creative potential while teaching them the importance of saving the planet

A devoted eco-warrior in Ras Al Khaimah is encouraging children to reduce, reuse and recycle waste by organising creative arts and crafts workshops in the community.

Alyona Sayer, a 42-year-old Ukrainian mother, began her waste recycling project a year ago, just after moving to the UAE’s northernmost emirate from Dubai. She brought her passion for art and craft to the fore when she decided to teach children the benefits of sustainability.

Ms Sayer said she found inspiration when she realised that her 9-year-old daughter, Sophia, felt good about herself every time she picked up litter on the beach.

“Her enjoyment and excitement made me think about starting the recycling and craft workshops for children in our community,” she said.

It is our duty and responsibility towards our planet

Alyona Sayer

“I care about the environment so when we moved to RAK, I decided to share my skills with little ones. Children are the future and they are also the ones who can encourage their families to reuse and recycle waste effectively,” said Ms Sayer, who lives in Mina Al Arab.

To get her project off the ground, she began messaging her neighbours and inviting children to participate in her workshop once a week.

One year down the line, in Ms Sayer’s little studio, young crafters are busy using waste material to create useful and decorative artefacts like snowflakes, candleholders, and toys.

“We use waste material to create something new, useful and beautiful. The workshop can take an hour or more depending on what we create. In our last workshop, the children created a snowflake using toilet and kitchen paper tubes, glue, glitter and their imagination,” she said.

The workshops, she said, help children unleash their creative potential while teaching them the importance of saving the planet.

“The little things they create [helps them remember] to reduce waste,” said Ms Sayer.

Sophia has now become her mother’s little advocate in spreading awareness and educating people on the effects of over-consumption and mindlessly filling up landfills with trash.

“I always clean the nearby beach with my friends. I once saw a picture of a turtle with a straw in her nose and knew that I had to do something to ensure that it doesn’t happen to another turtle,” said Sophia.

The girl is often joined by several other 8 to 11-year-old children in the studio.

Lebanese Lyanne Rafhi, 11, regularly attends the workshop because of her love for the environment and marine life.

“I like to recycle because I don’t want recyclable material to fill up the landfills and harm the environment. Instead, we can reuse them and create something new,” the girl said.

To set an example for others in the community, Ms Sayer has also created a waste management system in her house. She uses three rubbish bins to segregate waste efficiently.

“I have a garbage can for waste such as plastic, paper or metal, one for food waste and the third one for general waste,” she said.

“We also clean up the nearby beach. It is our duty and responsibility towards our planet,” said Ms Sayer, proving you do not need to be a scientist to change the world.

Updated: January 13, 2020 03:09 PM

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