One Green Thing: Trash versus valuable resources

By Jan Herbert
Rockford Park District

Whether you were “green” before the color was fashionable or whether you’re just ready to find the “shade” that works best for you, here’s information about doing just “one green thing.”

This morning, I learned how much commonality there is between being a jewelry enthusiast as well as a person who recycles. My Beading Gem’s Journal shares information about how a charity helps displaced Saharawis (Sahrawis) living in refugee camps in Algeria by making jewelry from trash.

A French-born artist has helped develop a unique technique to convert plastic bottles into what is described as “astonishingly good faux gold jewelry.” Of special note, this jewelry is created with just a few primitive tools and the heat from the sand. The project allows the Saharawis to “tell their own story, promote their own culture and earn a living through the arts.” You can find out more about the project by visiting

There are other bead projects here in the United States and around the world, where the creation of them helps women to learn new skills and make money at the same time. But that’s hardly the point.

The point is these refugees are using plastic bottles they are LUCKY enough to find, often making beads while working on a floor out of a material many of us designate as garbage.

It’s just my 2 cents, of course, but it is definitely time for a reappraisal of terminology (trash versus resource) and a time for a new level of education (learning about how a plastic bottle is a resource, not something to just throw away), and also perhaps time to think about advice received from my mother.

“We’ll just have to make do,” she would say. That’s what the women in Algeria are doing while they are making jewelry from trash. Maybe I need to give more thought to how that applies to my jewelry.

For more information, e-mail Jan Herbert at

From the Aug. 10-16, 2011, issue

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