May 5, 2009 / 8:56 AM / 10 years ago

Manila sprouts waste "trees" to save the planet

MANILA (Reuters Life!) - A forest has taken root in central Manila, but the trees are sprouting plastic bottles, discarded CDs and paper coffee cups instead of leaves in an art exhibit that hopes to raise environmental awareness.

Rising from a lawn in front of a busy boulevard, the life-size sculptures were created by university students keen to get more youth thinking about the damage every-day consumer goods cause to the earth.

Waste management is a perennial problem for the Philippine capital, whose 12 million people generate some 8,000 tons of solid waste every day.

In the exhibit, Starbucks disposable coffee cups become an artwork that questions how mass consumption has ravaged forest resources and generated large amounts of waste.

“Thirst Scraps,” a tree made of water bottles, aims to highlight how humans are “slowly drinking the life out of the planet” while another tree, with masks made of floppy discs, looks at how materials used for storing information contributes to solid waste.

“The masks signify humans who use the environment irresponsibly, who only think of their personal needs,” said Alexis Pingol, an industrial design major at the University of the Philippines.

“I’m hoping that these kinds of people will be awakened by this art work and see themselves in the tree.”

A group of students who built a sculpture from old bicycles said they were inspired by child scavengers who collect and sell metal scraps. Their artwork, entitled “Playground” is a homage to people who live and work in the capital’s teeming dumpsites.

“This sculpture speaks of a plaything which can also be a source of income when sold as scrap. And at the same time, metal scraps are toxic,” explained fine arts student Judith Rosette.

The artists said they hoped the exhibit would encourage more people to recycle goods and ultimately cultivate a green generation attuned to the effects of climate change.

Their message seems to be heard by some Manila residents.

“They look sort of like a warning to everybody,” said 12-year-old exhibit visitor Rohan Alibutud of the sculptures.

“They look creepy and sort of difficult to understand but it still makes sense that the world will become like this if we don’t start taking care of it.”

The exhibit, at the grounds of the Cultural Center of the Philippines along Roxas Boulevard, runs until the end of May.

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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