Photo by Henrika Nieminen

Inside the Cultural Programme of Tampere26: Plastic Rapids

Tampere26 application’s cultural programme is based on a broad notion of culture, and the programme itself lists 115 different projects. We will present some of our cultural projects in the coming days.

Today we will present the project called “Plastic Rapids”, where kids turn community waste into art.

The Plastic Rapids project provides children and youth practical advice on how to participate in nature conservation and to think creatively about the avoidance and reuse of everyday materials. Creative workshops on upcycling plastic objects, such as the Recycling Event Plastic Market and the Environmental-friendly-waste-Cleaning Games, call all participants for environmental action.

From waste to art

Children’s art workshops run by Puppet Theatre Nirunaru will build puppets resembling water creatures from recycled plastic.

Project Director and puppet theater artist Henrika Nieminen tells about the project in her own words:

“Plastic Rapids is a workshop series where children and young people can make an impact and participate in nature conservation. The project combines environmental education and art education. Puppet and object theater is utilized as an artistic genre. The workshops will teach you how to prolong the waste cycle, especially plastics. Dolls that resemble aquatic organisms are built from plastic waste. Thousands of children will take part in the workshops.”

The highlight of the project is a large parade in the centre of Tampere. The children and the aquatic creatures they build in the workshops form large plastic rapids that intersect with Tammerkoski. Plastic Rapids flows its own streams into plastic recycling, “the Plastic Market”, at the Central Square. Children from various European countries will join in the parade, enabling environmental awareness and cultural exchange – probably new friendships as well.

The life cycle of the puppets – created from waste and ending up as source materials – tells an important lesson, to be accompanied by environmental experts working in educational institutions, environmental organizations and recycling businesses.

Children’s climate concerns matter

“67% of young Finns experience a lot or quite a lot of insecurity due to man-made climate change,” says WWF. This phenomenon is called climate anxiety. The cause of anxiety is controversial, but it is clear that concrete action is needed to ease the anxiety.

“Children and young people have an equal right to have their voices heard, the Plastic Rapids project provides an opportunity to highlight climate concerns, make them visible and audible. Adults help children and bring out the necessary information about recycling issues. The actions of the present for the environment secure the future of children. They must also be able to make an impact”, Henrika Nieminen comments.

Project partners

The project partners include waste management and plastics experts as well as artists from various fields. The project already involves Pirkanmaa Waste Management, the Plastics Industry Association, the Finnish Plastics Association, and puppet theater makers from Tampere. The workshops are planned in collaboration with basic education. International cooperation is planned with many parties, such as the Russian NGO Clean Games.