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Junk mandalas for National Recycling Week

A fitting finale to National Recycling Week was held in the TMAG courtyard last Friday.

To highlight the connection between reducing waste by reusing items that can or should be recycled, staff from the Environment Division and TMAG joined forces to construct a large mandala from ‘junk’ - items that would usually be thrown away.

In the lovely sunny weather other DTAE staff joined in and unleashed their creativity to build the mandala.

Thanks to Andy Baird’s spruiking skills, school students and café patrons also contributed.

Many of the items used on the day are recyclable (such as metal catfood cans, aluminium ring pulls, bases from plastic cordial bottles, washing detergent scoops, and plastic lids from milk containers), while others are commonly discarded as litter (eg bus tickets, plastic cutlery, drinking straws and drink container plastic and metal lids).

In the shade of the courtyard verandah, adults and youngsters formed small individual mandalas.

Participants thoroughly enjoyed themselves and several commented how relaxing the activity was and how interesting it was to see the array of materials that could be gathered from ‘throw away’ items.

A mandala is Hindu in origin and is used as a focus for meditation. Buddhist mandalas represent the universe as a whole, with complex detail meticulously applied to slowly build the mandala from the centre outwards. The aim is to teach us to appreciate beauty without attachment, and each mandala is carefully deconstructed afterwards.

The mandala acted as inspiration for the development of the ‘Recycling symbol’ (three-sided endless loop).

The symbol was developed as part of a national competition in the US in 1970 to create a design that would symbolise the paper recycling process. Gary Dean Anderson, a university student, won the competition with his design now used widely today.

Click here here to view Rowena Zwart's powerpoint presentation of the mandala taking shape.