With garbage collection in Roatan at a near stand still due to the current transition of power at the municipality level, the local communities should be keeping a close eye on anything related to waste reduction. This is where a recycling project like Art3 D-Barrio and others like it have the potential to incite change and inspire more of us to start minimizing the amount of waste we produce simply by separating our trash and making it a habit to recycle.
Denis Berríos an urban painter, muralist, and plastic artist, graduate from the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes / National School of Fine Arts, is the artiste behind Art3 D-Barrio, a recycling project that dates back to 2010 which aim is to beautify public areas in the main land through the creation of art using recycled materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill somewhere. In essence, Denis wants to transmit to others that garbage is not just something to be thrown out in the street, instead it can be reused and with some creativity it can be transformed into something useful, and at the same time raise awareness about protecting the environment.
Denis has worked all around the country with public schools, the private sector, as well as with multiple environmental organizations, with his participation here in Roatan highlighted by a mural he constructed for the Recycling Project for a Clean & Green Island – an initiative that provides environmental education in Roatan schools that is organized and sponsored in part by the Cervecería Hondureña.
His work on this particular mural began four years ago when he was invited to participate on this project and add a new section every year the event took place. Most visitors have probably seen his beautiful mosaics at one point or another, in case you hadn’t noticed they are made with individual plastic bottle caps. The next time you go past the Escuela Modelo in Sandy Bay you can take a closer look at the vibrant patterns decorating the outer wall of the school, where the tropical theme is quite prevalent with references to animals from the ocean, seaside towns, sunsets, and basically all the typical things you would find on an island. With each square meter containing close to 1,500 individual caps, and the entire mural now measuring more than 35 meters in length, that equates to a whole lot less of this garbage ending up in our already filled to the brim landfill. Still, the project’s most remarkable feature has to be the school’s commitment from the start, with teachers encouraging students to chip in the design process by participating in a drawing contest to select the images to be incorporated onto the wall. The children also helped collect most of the construction materials by participating in another contest to see who could gather the largest amount of caps with the winner getting a prize. The kids even helped with the actual construction of the mural, setting a great example that beautiful art can be created from recycled materials.
“The project has been well accepted, the youth that participate get a great feeling after participating in such an activity, for example there are students that put in caps in the mural and they remember months or even years later that they put in that bottle cap, or that section with that color” says Berríos. Art3 D-Barrio has made a big impact in the community because even the parents are taking part in creating art. It helps build self-esteem and it makes the community look nicer. Denis mentions how he has seen kids tell their friends not to throw garbage out, and rather find ways to reuse it. “That gives me a great feeling of satisfaction in that the kids are realizing the importance of protecting the environment because the island really needs it, there is a lot of garbage polluting the island that we need to collect, recycle and repurpose”.