Imagine a plan to prevent 7,000 litres of paint from going to landfill. Imagine all those resources being allocated free-of-charge to community groups across several London boroughs who could actually use it, saving them £36,000 in expenses and sparing the city the emission of up to 15 tonnes of CO2. Imagine some of the paint ending up as colourful murals designed by 100 young people from deprived areas with the assistance of street artists.
Impressed? So were we when our member organisation Forest Recycling Project (FRP) first shared the details of the project above with us. So were, too, the viewers that cast their votes during ITV’s People’s Millions last November and selected FRP’s initiative Colour The Capital as the winner of £50,000 of lottery funding out of a number of others that also aimed for the prize.
A couple of months afterwards, the project seems ready to get going, says Brian Kelly, Project Development Manager at Forest Recycling (FRP). The organisation has been given until December 31st to deliver all the elements of their plan: nine murals scattered across three East London boroughs (Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest), six schools involved in the process and a grand total 6,000 litres of paint donated to community groups based on all three boroughs, 2,000 for each.
Ambitious yet doable targets, according to Kelly. “We are confident that there won’t be an issue with finding community groups interested in reusing our paint. Last year we managed to give away 10,000 litres in Hackney alone; we learned a lot of lessons from that exercise”. One of the long-term goals, he goes on to say, is to try and find a partner in these boroughs so that paint can continue to be distributed through a local outlet.
As for the murals themselves, FRP will be assisted by the people from partner organisation Global Street Art. They will be the ones providing a roster of street artists who will visit the six participating schools and deliver workshop sessions to students. “This will give them the opportunity to be creative, but also to learn how paint as a waste material can actually be a valuable resource to save people money and improve their living and working conditions”, Kelly underlines. To promote awareness of this, he adds, is critical for a country such as the UK, where 50 million litres of paint go to waste on a yearly basis, the 20% of all sold nationwide.
As the FRP’s Project Development Manager himself admits, it didn’t hurt for Colour The Capital to place the focus on the element of street art when coming up against its competitors for the lottery funding. “That was one element, I guess. Another was our stress on the schools and the community side of things”. The plan now is to use the interest the project has sparked to raise the organisation’s profile amongst the communities on these boroughs with regards to future paint reusing schemes.
By the looks of it, 2015 will prove a productive year for FRP. Not only do they have the Colour The Capital project to keep them busy, but also their 25th anniversary is approaching; a special occasion that, Kelly reveals, the organisation means to celebrate by giving away the staggering amount of 25,000 litres of paint to community groups in London.
The very best of luck to our colleagues at FRP and let our glasses be raised to their philosophy: no drop of colour deserves to end its happy days forgotten in landfill!