(Enjoy this retro Earth Day anthem, complete with awesome guitar riffs by Neil Young while you read this post)
Earth Day, which is celebrated on April 22, is a day dedicated to supporting environmental protection efforts.
The modern environmental movement began in 1970 at the suggestion of then US Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, for a “national teach-in on the environment”. The first Earth Day on 22 April brought together individual groups that had been protesting against the deterioration of the environment (oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife); 20 million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate for a healthy and sustainable environment. The idea to celebrate Earth Day on 22 April probably also stemmed from a much-earlier observance: Arbor Day. J. Sterling Morton was a Nebraska pioneer, writer and editor for Nebraska’s finest newspaper, and later, secretary of the Nebraska Territory. He was an advocate for planting trees. In January 1872, at a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture, Morton proposed a tree-planting holiday on 10 April called Arbor Day. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for the most trees planted properly. One million trees were planted on that first Arbor Day. In 1885, Arbor Day became a legal holiday in Nebraska, and April 22, which is Morton’s birthday, was selected as the date of observance. Today, it remains a common practice to plant new trees in celebration of Earth Day.
The theme for 2018 is End Plastic Pollution. Earth Day Network, the organisation that leads Earth Day worldwide, is not only creating support for a global effort to eliminate single-use plastic and regulate the disposal of plastics, but is also educating millions of people about the health and risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including the pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about
the growing body of evidence that plastic waste is creating serious global problems.
I recently bought my first stainless steel straw; this will be my ongoing individual effort to reduce plastic waste. I also mindfully live by these Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
There are many materials that we can reuse and recycle. I had an old and spoilt guitar collecting dust at home. Instead of dumping it, I approached Brenton to upcycle it into a guitar shelf.
Affectionately called “The Lamp Surgeon”, Brenton is a fervent Eco Warrior whose works embraces the concepts of creative reuse (the process of transforming old/discard materials into something useful, and with better environmental value and aesthetic qualities). He has now made a name for himself by experimenting with touch sensor circuitry and successfully converting vintage tin containers into fully functional touch lamps. I had a good chat with Brenton to find out more about him (this interview has been edited for clarity)!
Are you a musician? If so, what instruments do you play?
I used to jam a bit during my teens! I play the bass guitar as the original bass guitarist left ha!
What inspired you to upcycle old/unused guitars and ukuleles?
I was surfing around on the Net when I chanced upon this cool picture of an upcycled guitar shelf. It so happened that one of my friends is trying to get rid of his guitar, so he passed it to me to “experiment”.
You are very generous in imparting your skills via craft workshops. What do you think about the need to upgrade/practise/share your skills?
I’m a huge believer of constant learning, and that anyone can pick up any skill if they know where to begin and give it a try. Therefore, I conduct workshops so people can have an opportunity to have a new learning experience, and to show that it’s not as tough as it looks!
What are you up to lately? What are your latest projects?
I’ve started doing more touch-activated lamps for a year now! It’s another channel for me to express the versatility of using recyclables, and transforming them into items with new functions.
What would you like to say to passionate crafters?
I would say, once you have the confidence in your work, get out and participate in as many art markets as you (and your legs) can. It’s one thing making for your friend; it’s equally, if not more satisfying knowing that the public appreciates your efforts and loves your products 🙂
Brenton is holding the ONLY touch lamp workshop in Singapore on Saturday, 28 April 2018, at The Art Faculty from 1pm to 3pm. It is open to public, and you get to bring home your very own drink can lamp that can be activated by touch! It is SGD68 per person, but bring a friend along, and you get a further 10% discount! Send Brenton a message at his Instagram izzytouchlamp to register for the event. You can also shop on his Carousell.
I would like to end this post with a simple activity: What will you pledge this Earth Day? Write down the actions that you will stop (eg. wasting electricity), continue (eg. saving water), and start (eg. walking instead of driving).
Have you ever recycled/upcycled anything? Share your creations and tag us on Instagram at #BloomSchoolDIY!
Happy Earth Day!