School kids create art with recycled bottle caps

Elementary school students created this mural from recycled bottle caps

Students at Central Valley Elementary School in upstate New York have created an eleven-foot by eight-foot butterfly mural made with colored recycled plastic bottle caps.

This brilliantly hued artistic project was put together over the course of a year by 650 students in four grade levels and required between 7,000 and 8,000 plastic bottle caps and lids of all sizes to decorate this vibrant wall hanging. This enormous and time-intensive project was inspired by the work of Michelle Stitzlein, an Ohio-based artists who uses recycled materials in her artwork and does school workshops and lectures about recycling and ways students can create art using bottle caps.

Organized and coordinated by Central Valley’s  PTA Cultural Arts Chair Tina Edel, students and their families collected thousands of bottle caps and lids – from soda, seltzer, water, juice, shampoo and laundry detergent bottles as well as plastic lids from items like peanut butter jars and cream cheese. The school’s art teacher, Doreen Jaffee, created the butterfly mural. Then a team of volunteers, headed by Mariah Malone – an Ambassador Girl Scout who agreed to spearhead the project – sketched and painted the bright colors onto large pieces of plywood donated by the school district’s Buildings and Grounds Department.

Teams of student volunteers worked for a year to assemble this brilliant colored eco-artwork

Teams of students then worked on creating the actual mural – organizing the bottle caps, drilling and screwing them onto the board. The finished “artwork” is an amazing cooperative effort and well-executed lesson in the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

What an excellent way to get kids involved in conservation. And it serves as the inspiration for the local high school. Edel says her group has recently turned over giant trash bags of extra caps to the high school’s art department so they could begin planning their own bottle cap art project. Way to go!

2 Responses

  1. Very cool Debra! I hate plastics so much. When I read this, it made me realize that hopefully the kids of our future are learning to take care of our planet.

  2. I was one of the organizers of this project at Central Valley. Thank you for mentioning it here. You have the name of the scout wrong, though–it was Mariah Malone. The students and teachers loved creating the mural; a wonderful experience.

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