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STORIES OF THOSE CHANGING THE WORLD

EARTHDAY.ORG operates in over 190 countries to drive transformative change for our planet. Read a few of those stories here.

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TANZANIA

What You Call Trash… Others Call Treasure

Nassra Nassor Rashid 

Volunteer
Artist standing in front of eco art materials such as bottles and baskets
Nassra and her eco art.

My name is Nassra Nassor Rashid. I am a second-year student at Tanzania Institute Of Accountancy, pursuing a bachelor of marketing and public relations, as well as an artist of 22 years old. My journey through art led me to being an environmentalist.

What we consider waste may be useful when we think about it in a different light. Discarded items or waste provide bountiful, although largely ignored, resources for us artists to give them a second life or share their story. Items such as wine bottles, popsicle sticks, wood, and more can have a beautiful second chance as work of art. I deliberately scavenge for reusable materials that spark fresh ideas to create something new.

In my hands, glass bottles, plastic bags, and other waste items that would otherwise end up filling landfills and floating in the sea become a form of sustainable art. My art highlights the degradation of the world and surprises people with its originality. The possibilities stretch as far as my imagination — from paintings, to sculptures, to lights.

Any artist out there knows it takes a great deal of creativity, technique, and time, as well as failure. I always ask myself: To what extent is my work helping the environment? Are these materials really waste? Do those who buy my work understand my message?

A green, artistic bottle.

The people who buy this type of art find the work attractive for their artistic value, but I want to motivate them to contribute to the planet’s welfare too. I also want them to educate and raise awareness in society (especially among children). There is a common riddle in Tanzania that says, “Ukitupacho kwake ni dhahabu.” This means, “What you throw away is his gold.” The answer is, “Nzi,” meaning, “A fly.” Artists who use this type of art are considered flies and the trash that people throw away is their gold!

I want to take this opportunity to encourage environmental conservation through DIY projects, afforestation, recycling, and upcycling. This gives one a chance to learn something new and to be able to see the sparkles that the world can offer. These things can provide happiness to people around the world.


PHILIPPINES

Environmental Beauty Queen

Maricres Valdez Castro

My Future My Voice Ambassador
Maricres talks about her commitment to climate advocacy and tips for everyone to take action.

If we look for a true ambassador for the environment, we have one in Maricres, our youth ambassador in the Philippines. This well-known beauty queen uses her huge social media following and the many prestigious media platforms she is called to be on to inspire a call to action for the environment.

At many beauty pageant platforms (her latest as Philippines representative for Ms Universe 2020), her green messages come through loud and clear with statements such as, “My environmental advocacy is a focus on sustainability and sustainable business practices.” Inspired by her time spent working with village women in East Africa, she started a movement in the Philippines called Mothers for Earth. This movements works with women of different ethnicities to inspire them to turn their villages eco friendly.

Maricres says, “I want to empower our people with the skills and inspire their hearts to find innovative and sustainable ways to practice business like creating bio-charcoal from leftover coconut husks, composting techniques, sustainable agriculture techniques, and aquaponics. These practical and sustainable skills are methods.”

A great believer in the power of environmental education, she says, “I want to teach to inspire the next generation of Philippine’s green leaders in protecting our Mother Earth in a way where both God’s creations are protected and the needs of God’s people met.”


SRI LANKA

Leader in Zero Waste Art

Udari Anuththara Mohotti

My Future My Voice Ambassador
Udari discusses the power of designers to create a change in the world.

Udari strongly believes in a no-waste policy. “Most of what we discard can be crafted and upcycled into items that people would like to own,” she says.

A designer by profession in Sri Lanka, Udari creates stunning ranges of specially crafted portraits, jewelry, and other products, all made with discarded products. Every piece of hers produced by her enterprise, Umo Designs, showcases her concept of “trash-to-treasure.” Discarded vehicle tires are upcycled into beautiful jewelry. Udari creates portraits out of waste paper and packaging material. All this helps reduce the burden on already choking landfills.

To widen the trash-to-treasure concept among other artists, she aptly displays her concern for the environment and her exceptional leadership qualities with her latest venture Umo Unites. Udari set up this social enterprise to encourage other artists to get inspired with her no-waste philosophy and to use their artistic talents for the same purpose.

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