Five interior design students at West Virginia University mixed a modern message with a holiday tradition.
The team created a Christmas tree out of plastic water bottles to raise awareness about recycling and the rapid pace at which disposable products accumulate. The idea was used as an entry to the Global Entrepreneurship Tournament, a student competition coordinated by Stanford University in connection with Global Entrepreneurship Week last month.
As interior design students, were becoming environmentally conscious, and our classes reinforce concepts like sustainability,team leader Vianka Aloras said.In fact, we have a class called Sustainable Design and Development, which is open to any major and a class Id highly recommend.
Aloras, who grew up in Silver Spring, Md., has been involved in recycling her entire life.
Where I grew up, it was everywhere,she said.Im used to the blue bins and recycling.
Other team members included Lindsay Floyd of Rockville, Md.; Casey Kaiser of Frederick, Md.; Kori Korczyk of Beckley; and Amanda Miller of New London, Pa.
Global Entrepreneurship Week is an initiative that expands on Entrepreneurship Week USA 2007 and the inspiration behind it, Enterprise Week, which began in England in 2004. It is also tied into two global activities: Unleash It! and Speednetwork the Globe.
The goal is to promote the entrepreneurial aspirations of young people. During the week, partner organizations held activities designed to help participants acquire the knowledge, skills, networks and values needed to grow innovative and sustainable enterprises.
The WVU students learned of the contest through an announcement in the interior design program. Their assignment was to create something useful and sustainable from a mystery object, which turned out to be a plastic bottle. They were given four days to submit a video proposal of three minutes or less.
Aloras said the idea for a Christmas tree was a team effort based on a collective desire to raise the profile of recycling in West Virginia.
One of our team members said that West Virginia is one of the states that recycles the least,she said.We thought we had to start raising more awareness about these water bottles.
The students didnt win the contest but thought their idea was unique among the global entries.
Our idea definitely stands out,Aloras said.It seemed like everybody else did something using one water bottle and tried to demonstrate its scientific value or the value of water to the human body. I think we took a different approachmore about unsustainability and some tradition as well. We feel like we can make the world a better place while still keeping tradition. Plus, its a cheaper way to make trees.
To view the WVU studentsbottle tree on YouTube, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzuskeMaPD8 .
WVU s recycling program expanded in the past year to include nearly every building on campus and every off-campus site where the University leases space. It also has expanded its scope to include cardboard and electronics, along with glass, plastic and paper.
Through Nov. 4, WVU has recycled 553.5 tons of material, not including electronics items, according to WVU recycling coordinator Barbara Angeletti. Last year, the University recycled 525 tons.