An NGO from Sarajevo produces exciting works of art using waste bottle caps.
A beautiful carpet is on prominent display in the Sarajevo suburb of Ciglane. There’s something different about this so-called ‘Čepoćilim’ though: it is made of 25,000 plastic bottle tops. Its name translates as ‘cap carpet’ and it was designed and produced as part of a project by the Green Art Association, an NGO from Sarajevo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Alma Hrasnica Dervišević, the President of the association, explains that it all started ten years ago when she came up with the idea of producing art using bottle tops as part of activities for the European Week for Waste Reduction in Sarajevo. “Back then this was a quite ambitious project for us, as we did not know if people would appreciate this initiative and what kind of feedback we would get,” says Alma.
The initial challenge was to collect bottle tops. Alma set up a bottle top collection point and contacted schools, companies and other institutions to ask if they would be willing to contribute to this project by collecting and delivering discarded plastic bottle tops. “To my surprise, the response was very positive and in a short time we managed to collect a considerable amount of bottle caps, and this is how the Čepoćilim trend started,” says Alma.
Making one bottle top carpet a year
Following the success and appreciation of the first bottle top carpet, Alma and colleagues at the Green Art Association decided to turn this into an annual activity where they design and produce at least one carpet made of plastic bottle caps. For design, they decided to continue to use the traditional Bosnian carpet as this would be an artistic but also touristic attraction, contributing to the promotion of cultural heritage.
“Čepoćilim is the perfect combination of art, cultural heritage and ecology. The point of the project is to raise awareness of the accumulation of waste packaging and I believe that we have shown that there is a way to give this waste a new reuse value,” says Alma.
By involving young people, Alma believes that they managed to raise significant awareness among groups who can contribute to future environmental protection through waste reduction and management.
Recently, Green Art Association received support from the EU-funded ReLOaD (Regional Programme on Local Democracy) programme. The programme helped them in their latest project designing and producing benches from bottle tops, with a visual design drawing on traditional Bosnian carpets. In this latest activity they involved children from Vladislav Skarić primary school, Mjedenica school for children with learning difficulties and Bjelave orphanage. As part of the project, they conducted 30 eco-art workshops on turning waste into eco-art. In these workshops they used materials such as plastic bottles and tins. In their final project, they used around 15,000 bottle tops to produce the benches.
The project created an environment in which children and young people were able both to develop cultural initiatives that were ecological and to socialise through artistic activities. “Thanks to this project we were able to involve more children and young people in our activity and raise awareness among them about ecological issues and for this we are very grateful to the ReLOaD programme and EU,” says Alma.
The bottle top bench is now in the very centre of Sarajevo in Gimnazijska Street, surrounded by primary and high schools. For Alma it is a source of pride and all the children who worked on it, as well as their classmates, can see it every day and be reminded of the importance of waste reduction and management.