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Students' solutions to plastic pollution to be displayed at Buffalo Museum of Science

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Mon, Apr 29th 2019 06:10 pm
An example of both a rain barrel and a plastic bag sculpture by Adam Rivers' AP art class at Buffalo Academy of Science High School. (Submitted photo)
An example of both a rain barrel and a plastic bag sculpture by Adam Rivers' AP art class at Buffalo Academy of Science High School. (Submitted photo)

‘Pollution Prevention through Art’ exhibit, colorful rain barrels created by local students will be displayed beginning May 5

‘I am the Solution to Plastic Pollution’ demonstrates effects of plastics in environment, ways to reduce plastic usage

The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning and its environmental partners are inviting residents to join them at the Buffalo Museum of Science to recognize local students who have made art inspired to protect the environment. From 1-3 p.m. Sunday, May 5, visitors will be able to view a student-inspired rain barrel display, videos and artwork created from thousands of single-use plastic bags and developed by students from across Western New York.

The artwork on display is part of a project titled “Pollution Prevention through Art” that makes the connection between litter, stormwater and plastic pollution. ECDEP was joined in coordinating and conducting this project by the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Buffalo Zoo, the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute, and Hyatt’s Creative. Students used thousands of single-use plastic bags to create the art and sculptures, which will be on display at the museum from May 5-15. Area schools submitted a total of 41 art projects as part of the “Pollution Prevention through Art” program, with 16 selected for display in the exhibit.

“Again this year, students from all around Erie County have submitted artwork and rain barrels that demonstrate their understanding of the environmental issues facing us and capture their feelings about those challenges,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “These artistic interpretations stimulate discussion and encourage collaboration in responding to the plastic problem, and I thank DEP and their partners for once again energizing this conversation.”

Now in its second year, “I am the Solution to Plastic Pollution” has hosted more than 120 teachers from around the region in all-day development sessions at the Buffalo Zoo on issues surrounding single-use plastics. With this knowledge, teachers lead their students through a S.T.E.A.M. curriculum highlighting topics such as litter, stormwater management and ocean gyres. Teachers engaged students to better understand their role in plastic pollution prevention and discuss ways students and their families can be part of the solution to the problem of overuse of single-use plastic, such as plastic bags.

“The Buffalo Museum of Science is thrilled to be a partner on this project,” added Marisa Wigglesworth, CEO and president of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. “We are proud to host these innovative artistic creations for a second year. They convey an important message about how we care for our planet.”

The “Pollution Prevention through Art” exhibit is included with general admission; it is free for museum members.

Also on display are nine painted rain barrels from local schools and organizations throughout Erie and Niagara counties, which were submitted as part of the Western New York Stormwater Coalition’s annual art contest. This contest challenges entrants to learn more about stormwater pollution prevention and keeping pollutants out of local waterways. Participants then portray that knowledge in a vibrant, colorful way on a rain barrel. This year, area schools submitted more than 50 rain barrels, and nine were selected for the art exhibit. In total, 2,500 students from more than 50 WNY schools were involved in the program.

"By incorporating an artful approach with the conservation science of single-use plastics and recycling, these students were able to bring their own conservation ideas to life in a really fun and creative way," said Troy Paisley, director of education at the Buffalo Zoo. "With the help of their teachers, they got to explore some real-life ways that they can reduce their own use of plastics and also spread the word about sustainability to others through their own wonderful creations."

About New York State Pollution Prevention Institute

Sponsored by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through the Environmental Protection Fund, the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute is led by the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology, and is a partnership between RIT, Binghamton University, Clarkson University, Cornell University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. NYSP2I also works with the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help disseminate data and strategy.

NYSP2I’s goal is to make the state more sustainable for workers, the public, the environment and the economy through pollution prevention. This includes reducing or eliminating waste at the source by modifying production processes, promoting the use of nontoxic or less-toxic substances, implementing conservation techniques, and reusing materials rather than putting them into the waste stream.

For more information on the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, visit http://www2.erie.gov/environment/; on the WNY Stormwater Coalition, click here; on the Buffalo Museum of Science, visit https://www.sciencebuff.org/; or on the Buffalo Zoo, visit https://buffalozoo.org/.

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