North Texas Daily

University junior collaborates with local students to create mural about recycling awareness

University junior collaborates with local students to create mural about recycling awareness

University junior collaborates with local students to create mural about recycling awareness
September 15
12:00 2023

What was once a plain wall just outside Denton’s Landfill Recycling Center is now decorated with splashes of blue and green. The mural, designed by Kaci Martin, interdisciplinary art and design studies junior, is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of recycling.

Martin, an intern at the City of Denton Environmental Services & Sustainability, was personally selected to help create the mural because of her artistic skills. Initially from Dayton, Texas, Martin has adored creative influence in life and sought out her own art form as a self-taught artist focusing on surrealism. She has dedicated herself to the craft, doing several commissions, and has a website for her artwork. 

“Even though my parents weren’t creatives themselves, they really encouraged me to pursue it and that really solidified my journey for art,” Martin said. “My brother is a musician so they got the best of two worlds.”  

The mural is located right off of the side of the intersection of Spencer Road and South Mayhill, in front of the recycling center. Kim Jennings, Waste Reduction Program Coordinator and Ex-Park Ranger, believes this is a new Denton landmark. 

“It’s local, it’s right here,” Jennings said. “You drive by it and don’t know it’s there. Now with the Mural, it says that I’m right here.” 

Through the Denton partnership with Pratt’s Recycling Industries, a global cooperation focused on recycling and the world’s leading manufacturer of sustainable corrugated packaging and display solutions. Denton Plant Manager Zach Godbee reached out to the City of Denton’s Sustainability department for a project to educate the citizens of Denton on environmental sustainability and recycling. 

With the help of Denton’s Sustainable Schools program, 24 students from local elementary through high schools submitted artwork that would be used in the final design of the mural. The design incorporates each student’s work, with the Denton Courthouse as a centerpiece. 

“This ain’t just my piece of artwork,” Martin said. “It’s the community. If anyone had a piece to create this piece of art, it’s their artwork as well. I laid the brush to the canvas but I could not have done it without them.” 

Jennings also emphasized that not only was the community a big help, but the fact that it is also a community that recycles, a community of artists to help educate people and future generations about the importance of recycling. 

“This is the best way to [advocate for recycling], honestly – to start with art,” said Natasha Sturdevant, interdisciplinary arts and design studies sophomore. “Anyone can see it, it’s visually interesting and words only mean so much. How you view something and how it means to you means so much more than anything else, so this mural can help with that.” 

Thirty-two percent of Americans recycle, but only five percent of plastic gets recycled, according to a report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. This is largely due to items intended for recycling becoming contaminated.

Jennings said many people do not seem to understand the recycling policies, leading to an unneeded amount of items being caught in the machines, such as diapers and needles. This can lead to recycling being contaminated and thus rendering it unusable.

“One of the biggest challenges is to clarify to people that yes, your recycling in the blue pin does get recycled,” Jennings said. “We need to educate people on the policies and labels of why certain items can’t be recycled.” 

To prevent this from happening, and to further fight against plastic pollution, Martin believes a significant number of residents need to be further educated on the means of recycling. Martin considers this to be why the mural was created — to bring attention to the problem, and further encourage people on the matter. 

“It already made a big impact on our community, because we involved so many of the students in creating things,” Martin said.  “The impact on me as a person will definitely last for a long time and will stay with those students as well. So I know that every time someone sees it, they will be reminded of the importance of our environment.” 

Featured Image: Courtesy of Kaci Martin

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Cameron Silvas

Cameron Silvas

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