The University of the South Pacific (USP) through its Pacific Ocean Litter Youth Project (POLYP) this year partnered with the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) to create a nativity scene using plastic waste washed up on our shores.
In an effort to remind Fijians of the amount of plastic that will be used this festive season, POLYP co-founder Ms Suzanne Turaganiwai from the Institute of Applied Sciences at USP with her team created a small nativity scene using bottle caps, other plastic waste, and reusable props.
Ms Turaganiwai said, “every Friday we did clean up at different areas and the PCC team would invite their partners and members and we were able to get a lot more things done to get this significant piece done.”
“We want people to see what’s in their environment, what’s washed up on the beaches and what’s in the sea. Hopefully that will start conversations on how we can do better as people of the Pacific. How we can do better in terms of managing our waste,” Ms Turaganiwai said.
The POLYP co-founder added that actions such as “refusing single-use plastic at family gatherings could influence a lot more people to be part of this great initiative.”
PCC General Secretary Reverend James Bhagwan said, “the launch of the nativity scene does not only signify the spirit of Christmas but also highlights the importance of waste management and environmental sustainability.”
He said that USP together with PCC as regional institutions play an imperative role in raising awareness about the need for proper waste management both in rural and urban centres.
“This Christmas, I would implore our fellow Pacific brothers and sisters that while we’re enjoying our Christmas traditions of gift exchanges, may we also think about reducing our plastic waste,” he said.
USP POLYP co-founder Ms Turaganiwai said the successful launch of the nativity scene is a proud moment for her as it reflects the growth since its inception.
“We started with mosaics in our POLYP group. We do mosaics and different workshops with people and PCC also asked us to come to help them make a setup just like this. We were a bit cautious at first on how to do it but we were able to do something from the rubbish we collected and I am very happy with the work that we’ve done and the message that’s coming from this,” she added.
Ms Turaganiwai is hopeful that this initiative will bring people together and inspire others to adopt sustainable practices this Christmas and boost work around bringing about a better and cleaner Pacific.