ROANOKE, Va. – A new art sculpture was unveiled at Mill Mountain Zoo on Wednesday, made from litter and plastic cleaned up from the Roanoke River.
Clean Valley Council and Mill Mountain Zoo collaborated with Roanoke City Public School’s fourth-grade students attending Roanoke Academy for Math and Science to create the sculpture.
It’s part of the Art to Rescue the River project funded by a grant from the City of Roanoke’s Arts and Culture Commission.
The goal is to increase awareness of the problem, reduce litter and plastic pollution, and alter consumer habits. Excess collected plastic is used in schools and at the zoo during programs for students in order to create their own sculptures along with learning lessons about how pollution impacts the wildlife here in Virginia.
“The empathy in our students was remarkable and I am inspired by their efforts,” said Roanoke Academy Art Teacher Jenny Shany.
Through this project and student sculpture, they hope to increase the community’s value of the Roanoke River and their understanding of the ecological impact these things have on our local environment. This will spur our citizens to look back at the 4 Rs with fresh eyes in order to reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse while making more environmentally-friendly consumer choices like using biodegradable and sustainable products.
According to Courtney Carter Plaster, Executive Director of Clean Valley Council, community cleanups in 2020 collected 11.95 tons of trash.
Two more artists’ sculptures will be unveiled at the Zoo’s Party for the Planet on Saturday, April 23.