By Annabel Williams, Teen Ambassador of the Global Co Lab Network Arts Hub

The Eco-Teen Action Network’s (ETANs) Arts Hub just launched its 2020 Global Youth Upcycling Challenge.  In partnership with ETAN’s Plastics Hub, Globart, the Global Co-Lab Network’s Arts Hub challenges teens globally to submit photos of upcycled artwork creations to showcase on the Co Lab’s social media platforms and the Global website. The challenge urges teens (ages 13-18) to create things from jewelry, fashion, home decor, to artwork using recycled materials such as plastic bottles, old wood, plastic bags, glass, newspaper, etc. 

With 14 billion pounds of trash being dumped into the ocean each year, overflowing landfills, and incinerators burning trash while releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it is abundantly clear that our world has a problem with waste, part of which can be attributed to the single-use culture. There are numerous problems contributing to our waste and many solutions to better manage that waste as well, but it is apparent that we need to change our habits and our thinking around consumerism to transition to a circular economy. This is the only way to actually reduce the amount of trash we put out and we do so by the well-known, but very accurate, saying reduce, reuse, recycle! Upcycling, by definition, means to “reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.” We are calling young people to action to create new items and beautiful artwork to bring awareness to the world’s single waste issue, reduce trash and pollution in their own communities, help people internalize the principles of reuse, and challenge students’ creativity and ability to work with new materials. 

To participate in the Global Youth Upcycling Challenge, you must be between 13 and 18 years of age and have photos of your work submitted before our deadline of September 15th to this submission form. We are anticipating to see things such as multimedia sculptures or collages, fashion items, rugs or baskets, jewelry, flower pots, and so much more. To learn more about the challenge guidelines and submission process, check out our infographic. We can’t wait to see what teens create!