How Christmas tree from waste plastic bottles lit up celebration in Ibadan

Yuletide is a time for celebration and holidays. There are lots of parties and get-togethers that at the end of the day generate a lot of waste. It is therefore heart-warming to see that Christmas can be an occasion to utilise waste in a meaningful way, such as this 15-feet Christmas tree made of waste plastic bottles.

Working for 13 hours over a period two days, Jumoke Olowookere worked with her team of volunteers to create this Christmas tree situated at Moniya, an area at the fringe of Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, Nigeria. Moniya is also the new hub of the newly operational Lagos-Ibadan rail line.

Using 821 bottles, Olowookere and her team of volunteers worked for two days: eight hours on the first day and then another five hours the second day, to create a Christmas tree out of waste plastic bottles.

The initiator of the Christmas tree project, Olowookere, told Nigerian Tribune that she has always been fascinated with how waste materials can be creatively put to good use instead of just throwing them away. She also pointed out the Christmas tree she made this year was not the first one.

“I’ve always been fascinated with wastes…always looking and exploring what I can do with it instead of throwing them away; and always looking at making instead of buying. My uncle introduced me to DIYs and showed me that there’s nothing I can’t do only if I set my mind to it.

“The first time I would see something similar was at an event by a friend in Lagos in 2017. One gift I also discovered I have is if I see something once, I can reproduce it! So, I saw it from afar, and right there, I knew I could do it! I came back to Ibadan and started making plans to do it, and that year I made my first Christmas tree from wastes bottles at Moniya. It was a 20-foot tree made with over 1,500 bottles.”

Giving more details on how the first tree came to be, Olowookere said, “The first one took almost two weeks, as I did it with my own children and the Moniya Community children.”

She said that, “We were only doing it after school hours. So we will come out in the evening and work on it for three to four hours daily until it is dark and everyone goes home.”

For all who have set their eyes on the waste plastic bottle Christmas tree especially when it is lit in the dark, the reaction has been awe and surprise.

“Plastic bottles! For a Christmas tree?” “This is beautiful!” “This is innovative!” “Who would have thought!”

It is no surprise then that Olowookere has gone on to make five of such Christmas trees in different locations in the city.

There is also a snowman she has made with used tyres; another show of creativity in using waste this yuletide.

“The first one we did in Moniya was our own ‘give back’ to our community where we are located.

“Then we got a community – Alalubosa Estate – that commissioned us to do one for them.

“Then two other schools called us to commission us to do it for them.

“Also a friend from Togo called that they would like to do it, and they did it and sent us the picture, all the way in Togo!

“All together we have these plastic bottle Christmas trees at Moniya, Akingbile, Jericho, Alalubosa – all in Ibadan, and the one from my friend in Togo.”

Olowookere put the cost of constructing these trees at between N30,000 to N100,000 based on the size and other cost components like the metal frame, lighting used and other logistics such as gathering and transporting the waste bottles.

The menace of plastic waste has become so significant that the United Nations had as its theme “Beat plastic pollution” for the World Environment Day in 2018.

According to the UN, about 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced yearly. That amount is nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.

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