On a given day in the LRC Concourse at Humber’s North Campus, you can hear espressos being prepared at the coffee shop, and students and staff having conversations over notebooks and laptops. The week of January 13, these familiar sounds were joined by sounds of hammering and the smell of paint and hot glue as campus waste was turned into a monumental installation entitled Humberthropocene.
Humber Galleries and the Office of Sustainability worked together throughout the fall semester to collect a variety of waste produced by programs and activities at Humber’s Lakeshore and North campuses.
Led by Toronto-based environmental artist and muralist Anya Mielniczek, the project’s title is a play on the term Anthropocene, which refers to the current time period when human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. Mielniczek creates art by combining easily discarded materials to draw attention to wasteful tendencies and encourage more sustainability.
“We are reaching that moment in time where these materials are making their way into our oceans and onto our plates so it’s really pertinent to be working with these types of materials today…I am excited because this conversation is becoming louder,” said Mielniczek. “I was so thrilled that Humber approached me with this idea themselves. It is great to see more institutions speaking and thinking of this. Art has an important role to play in addressing these issues in a way that reaches our hearts and hits us emotionally so we are inspired to think about things differently.”
Humber staff, faculty and students were invited to collaborate with Mielniczek to create a collage of the trash on large circular plywood supports.
“We have waste from Theatre Production, IT Technical Services, Art Commons, general office waste (pens, pencils), a lot of e-waste as well,” said Kyla Ross, Coordinator for Humber Galleries and the Centre for Creative Business Innovation. “The completed mural will be displayed for the remainder of the winter semester. Once it is taken down, we are hoping to have it relocated within the North Campus to a space where it can be viewed by the general population and inspire people to change their waste disposal practices and be more sustainable on campus.”
Along with institutions around the world, Humber College continues to struggle to reduce waste.
“While we have many great programs to reduce, reuse, and recycle at the College, such as recycling, organics collection, battery recycling, pen recycling, and e-waste collection, our campuses continue to produce 793-metric tonnes of trash destined for landfill annually. We need everyone to reflect on the items they use and consider how they can reduce their waste as we will all reap the rewards of a cleaner environment,” said Devon Fernandes, Sustainability Specialist.