What would you do if you come across a discarded bottle? Like most others, probably ignore it and move on. But not this 23-year-old who is literally turning trash into treasure, and earning well while doing it!
The aftermath of celebrations and social gatherings are a sweepers nightmare. The ground littered with torn pieces of decoration, discarded food and used cutlery is a common sight. And when there is no proper method of disposal, the waste becomes a menace.
This is exactly what has been happening for the last two years in Mangaluru, Karnataka. Waste items generated at a ground near Megha Mendon’s house oftens ends up near or in the Phalguni River (also known as Gurupura).
Plastic and glass bottles lie on the river banks unattended for days together until it is washed away by the water. I live only a few steps away from the river and it was disheartening to see the pollution destroying yet another water source, Megha tells The Better India.
Unlike most of us who ignore the mess and continue with our lives, the 23-year-old student of architecture decided to do something about it.
After brainstorming several ideas to clear the discarded bottles without harming the environment, Megha zeroed on using her painting skills to her advantage.
Megha, who has participated in beach cleanup drives in the past, walked up to the river one day, collected glass bottles and brought them home.
Instead of painting on canvas, I painted on a glass bottle and the end result turned out to be fine. So I continued beautifying the bottles and even shared the idea with my neighbours and friends, she says.
The striking art pieces installed at Megha’s house soon caught people’s attention including of renowned artist Dinesh Holla. The artist is best known for his artwork that was selected as the official poster of Dieppe Kite Festival in France.
“Dinesh encouraged me to organise an exhibition for people and spread the creative message of conserving the environment. I made an informal announcement in my locality about a workshop,” says Megha.
The word got around quickly and around 30 people turned up for the free workshop that lasted for five days in May this year.
The objective was not only to teach people about managing waste but also empower them to come up with alternate solutions.
People from all age groups and professions attended the workshop and they actively upcycled their waste bottles into decorative items.
Through the workshop, Megha also ensured that the garbage items are made worthy enough for people to continue the upcycling activity. At the end of the workshop, she organised a public exhibition of hundreds of bottles that were turned into artwork.
Close to 500 bottles were given a new lease of life and almost all of them were sold in the exhibition. The bottles were categorised into three categories – with LED lights, without lights and embossed art, says Megha.
After receiving an overwhelming response for the workshop and exhibition from the people, Megha plans to continue her tryst with the workshops and engage more number of people in such DIY activities.
Megha has so far, since 2017, been instrumental in preventing 900 bottles from entering the river either by upcycling it on her own or by inspiring others to do so.
If you are inspired from Megha’s efforts for a sustainable environment, she recommends these five easy DIY steps to give a creative spin to the bottles:
Step 1: Collect the bottles, clean them and remove the stickers on them.
Step 2: For the background colour, apply three layers of the paint. This ensures that colour doesn’t become dull and glass is not visible. It will also give a different texture to the bottle.
Step 3: Designing. Choose what you want to paint on the bottle.
Step 4: Apply a chemical coat or a Varnish paint (Varnish is a clear transparent hard protective finish or film) to ensure that paint doesn’t wear off. Varnish paint is easily available in Hardware shops. Megha recommends applying varnish once every year for best results.
Step 5: Insert LED lights and turn your decorative item into a light lamp.
Also Read: Kerala Girl Collects Discarded Bottles From Dirty Lake, Upcycles Them Into Decor!
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)