Eco-Art in daily life – the way to change the world

The possibility of changing the world only becomes possible when we not only begin talking about environmental issues, but when families begin to use certain attitudes in their daily life. That is the opinion held by partners of an international Grundtvig project „Earth S.O.S through ECO-creativity“ from Italy, Lithuania, Hungary and Turkey.

Studies carried out by the partners show that while environmental problems have certainly become more widely discussed in media and political debates, their impact has proportionately lessened. It seems, that the majority of the people have gotten used to the grim tone used when speaking on environmental issues and started to effectively ignore them in the belief, that it is impossible to change anything. However, change become possible only is each and every one of us takes responsibility.

Taking responsibility can be encouraged by using creativity as well as making changes in our daily lives. The past experiences of project partners show, that environmentalism can virtually be able to move mountains: financially sound, interesting and inspiring creativity.

How the old becomes the new

Materials – be it paper, fabrics, plastic can be used for various different purposes despite their origins. An example of this can be found in Lithuania.

“Think green” - a creative design workshop and eco project of “” has been operating since 2008. The essence of the project could be described in a short slogan – “Work towards ecology”. The “Think green” team of creatively minded people tries to reuse paper and encourage others to do so as well.

One of the workshops made us of old or redundant posters, flyers of different events to turn them into practical, original and environmentally friendly bags, as well as other accessories. All the participants needed were glue, pieces of fabric, scissors and their creativity. The poster’s were cut into stripes and connected using methods found in weaving. Personal and original eco shopping bags could become the norm instead of standardized plastic ones.

Another excellent Lithuanian example is patchworks. Today one of the norms for ecological and practical art is to create patchworks. Patch working being a simple and clever way to recycle worn clothing into something nice for the household, children, presents or even an environmentally friendly way to earn extra money. Sharing skills encourages others to make patchworks ranging from tea-cozies to bed wraps and also helps find new friends in the process. The whole process of quilting uses only a needle and thread to join two or more layers of material to make a quilt. In this way, piecing small, old or unused pieces of fabric to form a larger piece becomes a way to give new life to the material. During the time of economic downturn, quilting can become a way of creating something new and pretty out of the old. Similar methods are used in Turkey as well, though to create entirely different things.

The term “Damal doll” means nothing to most people and the few people who have heard of these unique local dolls are usually unaware that Damal is actually the name of a small town in the district of Posof in Ardahan province in northeastern Turkey. Fidan Atmaca was born and raised in Damal and as a child used to make her own dolls from pieces of wood and clothing made from scraps of fabric. Evidently, the young Fidan was a resourceful child, and it is to no one’s surprise that she grew up to become a skilled dressmaker. She specialized in the traditional regional costumes and as her reputation spread, people began ordering more and more costumes from her. Widespread interest in traditional costumes inspired her with the idea of making simple handmade dolls dressed authentically in every detail. And as of today there are 65 young women employed to make these unique local Damal dolls.

The answer for true change – including communities

Lithuanian and Turkish examples show, that by combining benefits and a way to realize your creativity, you can do a lot for the environment. However, even bigger changes can be achieved by including communities in the process – as shown by the workshops carried out in Hungary.

One of such examples is the Green wave bicycle workshop. During the workshops the 10 participants disassembled the bicycles into pieces, removed the old paint coat, cleaned and repainted them. The main idea of the workshop was to unite the community with a common cause – in this case by repairing, performing maintenance and decorating bicycles to make them road-ready again. These workshops not only allowed the community to conserve the environment, but by drawing attention to an environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

Another topic to unite communities is Adobe Construction. Adobe is a very old traditional material for building houses. In Hungary if you would go to the countryside, 60-70% of the houses are still made of adobe. This is a very practical material accommodating to Hungary`s climate – keeps warm during the cold winter and cool during the hot summer.

The preparation of adobe brick is possibly the most environment friend way, as it is made from clay, straw, water and dung – that is, only organic materials. The maintenance of it is also relatively easy it only needs some more mud every 2-3 years and to be painted by whitewash. The construction of these houses, especially in the countryside was a social event as well and brought people together.

The Green Wave camp was held in Somogyhárságy with more than 40 participants. Participants could choose their projects: they could make creative objects or make more practical things like ovens and sausage fumigants (to smoke various meats). The aim of this one week long workshop was to let people meet the old Hungarian traditions and make them to be aware of the benefits of using organic and traditional materials.

Garbage becomes art

One example from Italy set out to change our attitude towards what we usually discard without thought. “Fatto di Scarto”, which in English is translated as “Made by Waste”, is a series of workshops in which through recycling, transforming and experimenting with old and new materials the re-imagination of old things takes place as the artist or craftsman tries to send a message on sustainable practices. These workshops are organized regularly during the year in Arezzo city in Tuscany. During the workshops the participants are strongly stimulated to use their imagination in order to create new tools or new “artworks”.

The author of these workshops, Sauro Montecchi, clearly underlines the difference between reusing and recycling. The reuse of an object means only a change of the primary use of the object, without any intervention on its basic purpose (a dish, in this case, at the end of his life cycle, can become a flowerpot holder). On the other hand recycling involves the creation of a project on the basic purpose of the object, the manual intervention by the craftsman, a time of work on it, electricity, new materials (screws, glues, paints, nails, etc). All these actions have a very real cost to them, so, if the newly created object would have a short life cycle it doesn’t make any sense to create it in the first place, since this would only increase pollution and generate more waste. Thus, it is always important to evaluate the relationship between the life of the new object and the sum of costs (not only economic, but environmental as well).

All of these different examples in different countries show, that there is a variety of ways to make environmentalism a part of you, easily understandable and applicable.


All good practices were collected by the Grundtvig project “Earth S.O.S. through Eco-Creativity” partners: Semiotinių tyrimų centras (Semiotics research centre), Olur Halk Eğitimi Merkezi (Olur Public Training Centre), AGAT Associazione Geografica per l‘Ambiente e il Territorio (Geographical Association for Environment and Land), Zöld Hullám Közhasznú Természetbarát Egyesület (Charity Association 'Green Wave). The project is funded by the European Commission. This article reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.