Section ENVIRONMENT
TOPIC

Bottles2boats (B2B)

Bottles2boats or B2B is a holistic, educational recycling programme that transforms plastic bottles into sailboats.  It promotes “The Educational Circle of Recycling,” a cyclical, sustainable concept with a five-fold aim and a corresponding five-step boat-making process.  The Educational Circle of Recycling focuses on engaging children and schools to implement and run the youth-centered environmental programme through a complete cycle that sustains itself and the community in the long run. 

 

Bottles2boats or B2B, through the Educational Circle of Recycling, seeks to achieve 1) educational awareness through the collection of plastic bottles, 2) physical activity through shredder machines that involve physical energy and exercise, 3) innovative recycling through the use of customized looms to weave plastic cords into a net, 4) upcycled equipment by building boats from woven plastic nets, and 5) reward participation by sailing the completed boats for training or leisure purposes.

 

The objectives of Bottles2boats (B2B) are categorized under youth development and environmental awareness. 

 

In the aspect of youth development, Bottles2boats gives the opportunity to youth with fewer opportunities, to participate in the development and of an original idea.  It sought to provide opportunities for 16 young people with fewer opportunities from 8 countries to participate in a structured voluntary activity with specific learning outcomes.  This included further development of an already innovative non-formal educational learning tool (The Educational Circle of Recycling) and empowerment of young people through the sense of creation.  It also highlighted the importance of teamwork and environmental awareness to participants and the local community.  The programme also sought to strengthen the capacity of organizations to create innovative socio-educational activities for young people with socio-economic problems and their integration into social and professional life, as well as promote the value of the European Solidarity Corps as a means of developing European society.  This was realized by Bottles2boats using a two-fold, youth-centered purpose.

 

The first purpose concerns a target group of young people facing various social problems, of a personal or psychological nature and work with dispatchers through youth working processes or social work to overcome them. At the same time, the development of young people is achieved as well as their contact with practical skills and scientific knowledge. The second purpose concerns as a target group, the students of secondary education, who participate in the holistic education cycle created by the programme. This cycle begins with their education in the classroom (educational program that has been approved by the Ministry of Education), continues with the collection of plastic water bottles, the processing of plastic with innovative machines (bicycle-shredder, cutter, plastic loom, etc.), the creation of boats (together with foreign volunteers) and offering free sailing lessons to participating students. Also this goal was achieved with the present plan which was an important tool for their implementation two of the above steps, while bringing the European Solidarity Corps volunteers to contact with students who, in addition to the immediate educational objectives, became familiar with the Program and they were motivated to participate in it in the future.

 

In the aspect of environmental awareness, Bottles2boats responds to the five-fold aim of The Educational Circle of Recycling: 1) environmental and educational awareness, 2) physical activity, 3) innovative recycling, 4) upcycled equipment, and 5) reward for participation.

 

The first aim begins in schools, seeking out the source of education and promoting environmental awareness through the collection of plastic bottles.  Together with this, the second aim of promoting physical activity is addressed by the use of plastic-shredding exercise machines that students can use in school.  Here, the third aim of innovation plays a big role, as the youth take part in unique and interesting ways of recycling plastic bottles.  Consequently, students see the result of the upcycled plastic bottles, which are made into plastic cords, then woven into plastic nets and made into a sailboat.  The fifth aim to reward participation gives the opportunity to everyone who participated in the plastic-shredding and boat-making process – to experience something fun and interesting, in this case, sailing lessons using the sailboat that they helped to build.  This gives everyone the motivation to keep the process going and continue the Educational Circle of Recycling.

 

Bottles2boats was established in the town of Kalamata, Greece, along the Mediterranean Sea.  The local community and tourists have a lifestyle centered around the beach, which exposes people to the harsh realities of water pollution and the alarming issue with single-use plastics, particularly with plastic bottles.  Plastic bottles are sold and used widely in society, without consciousness or concern about the base material of plastic, the production process and the disposal of the used product.  Plastic bottles also make up a large percentage of waste found in the sea, beaches, bays, roadsides, and the general waste of the community.  Bottles2boats responds to this challenge focused on plastic bottle waste.

 

On another aspect, this programme also understands the growing tendency in modern society wherein children and youth spend most of their time indoors and neglect physical exercise or outdoor play.  Recognizing that physical activity is an important factor in overall health and well-being, Bottles2boats aims to incorporate this aspect into the overall programme. 

 

This can be done primarily through the education system, where schools serve as the basic source of training for the youth.  Kalamata is a small town where environmental awareness is lacking in the community.  Most people are unaware or are not concerned about the effects of their lifestyle, actions, decisions, and purchases.  Single-use plastics, and in particular, plastic bottles, are an environmental hazard that society needs to realize and act upon immediately.

 

Bottles2boats also understands that community programmes need to inspire fun, interest, innovation, uniqueness and an extraordinary aspect or a reward that most people have not experienced before.  This need is even greater when dealing with children and youth, as it requires motivation in order to attract attention, retain interest, and proceed with a programme until its completion.  In Kalamata, to reduce, reuse and recycle is not given much attention or importance.  Most young people find that recycling does not offer a visible, tangible motivation for them to participate.   Bottles2boats promotes “The Educational Circle of Recycling,” wherein these concerns are addressed, with solutions that are multi-faceted and innovative, while also responding to environmental issues.

 

However, most recycling programmes are usually single-ended processes.  People participate with one end goal, or a single product as a result.  Bottles2boats breaks through this common notion that recycling is a one-way street with just one final product.  This programme commits to “The Educational Circle of Recycling,” which completes a full cycle and keeps on going, without end.

Bottles2boats began in June 2018 as a project for Erasmus+ European Solidarity Corps (ESC), involving first and foremost the local students of an elementary, middle and high school in Kalamata Greece, as well as international volunteers. The first stage began with the environmental awareness training of students and collecting of plastic bottles for recycling.  This was done in the first quarter of 2018, followed by the pilot stage of constructing the first Optimist dinghy sailboat in June-July 2018.  In July 2018, the sailboat was tested in the Mediterranean Sea and deemed seaworthy, thus proving the success of construction of the sailboat from recycled plastic bottles.  The project continued with the ongoing collection of plastic bottles in the schools of Kalamata.  The second phase of the ESC project was done in October 2019, wherein, more international volunteers arrived for the construction of another Optimist dinghy sailboat.  The project continues with the collection of bottles, as well as the environmental awareness training.  Now in 2021, the project will take on an improved form with regards to the methods, execution, results and overall impact.

Bottles2boats begins by educational training courses in schools, coupled with a system of recycled plastic bottle collection.  At the same time, students are taught to use plastic shredders by exercising, in the form of a shredder-bicycle that shreds plastic bottles into flakes, or a mobile shredder that shreds plastic bottles into cords.  Here, education and physical activity are combined, going towards the third step of innovative recycling by using customized looms that build plastic nets.  Students learn how to use customized weaving looms to make plastic nets from the plastic cords they shredded.  These plastic nets are layered and pressed together, building sheets to form the structure of an Optimist dinghy sailboat.  The sailboats, the final product, are used in sailing clubs in Kalamata, to provide sailing lessons to the kids who participated in the Bottles2boats process.  Students and the youth are rewarded with an experience and training in sports activities, which in turn, encourages them to continue the cycle of Bottles2boats.

 

The Bottles2boats programme achieved results in youth participation and the preservation of water resources, as well as awareness creation, counteracting climate change, resource efficiency and environmental protection.  It also fulfilled the five-fold aim of “The Educational Circle of Recycling,” which not only completed the final product of the Optimist dinghy sailboat, but also continues the cycle of Bottles2boats in schools and the local community.  Bottles2boats involved the participation of youth with about 100 students from different schools in Kalamata, learning about the Educational Circle of Recycling, participating in plastic-shredding and weaving the shredded plastic cords into plastic nets.  To support the boat-making process, a group of 16 international volunteers worked full-time to build the Optimist dinghy sailboat. They spent a total of 50 hours (through 10 working days) for the boat-making process, with the use of 2 mobile plastic shredders and 2 customized looms for weaving plastic nets.  Approximately 3,100 plastic bottles were recycled and shredded into plastic cords that formed plastic nets to build one Optimist dinghy sailboat.  The Bottles2boats sailboat was tested and deemed seaworthy in the Mediterranean Sea, allowing participants of the programme to use it for training or leisure purposes.

 

The programme was managed in accordance with professional youth work standards and in line with the terms of the European Solidarity Corps programme. A qualitative partnership of youth organizations was created, holding extensive experience in sending and receiving volunteers as well as working with groups of young people with fewer opportunities. This was the basis for choosing this consortium in order to guarantee the success of the project but also to be able to take the necessry follow up measures after the end of the activity. The youth organisations forming the partnership was Younet (Italy), Pistes Solidaires (France), Mundus (Spain), ADEL (Slovakia), Pro Vobis (Romania), Fundacja Rozwoju Spoleczenstwa Przedsiebiorczego (Poland), Mais Cidadania (Portugal), Seiklejate Vennaskond (Estonia) as sending organisations and Social Youth Development (KA.NE.) as hosting organisation.

 

Operational and learning objectives, with specific indicators and structured monitoring and evaluation strategy for all stages of the project, have been set for the needs of the activity. The partners and volunteers were directly involved in all stages and were able to co-shape the final outcomes, contributing to the best possible success of the project. At the same time, the communication strategy, the visibility of the project and the dissemination of the results was structured. For all of the above, a SWOT analysis was developed and a specific timetable for preparation, activity and follow-up actions was developed in co-operation with all members of the partnership.

 

 

Bottles2boats involved the participation of the organization K.A.NE. Social Youth Development and the Erasmus+ European Solidarity Corps (ESC) volunteers from overseas.  This involved youth workers, project managers, and staff, together with a local recycling group in Kalamata, Greece. The first phase occurred in June-July 2018 wherein 15 volunteers from 7 different European countries, arrived and participated in the construction of the first Optimist dinghy sailboat made of recycled plastic bottles.  The second phase occurred in October 2019, where again, 15 volunteers from different European countries participated in building another Optimist dinghy sailboat.  The project continues now in 2021, wherein it will be enhanced in terms of methodology, participation, results and overall impact.  This is to ensure that "The Educational Circle of Recycling" continues on, and reaches a wider audience, therefore creating a bigger impact on society and the environment.

 

The programme was managed in accordance with professional youth work standards and in line with the terms of the European Solidarity Corps programme. A qualitative partnership of youth organizations was created, holding extensive experience in sending and receiving volunteers as well as working with groups of young people with fewer opportunities. This was the basis for choosing this consortium in order to guarantee the success of the project but also to be able to take the necessry follow up measures after the end of the activity. The youth organisations forming the partnership was Younet (Italy), Pistes Solidaires (France), Mundus (Spain), ADEL (Slovakia), Pro Vobis (Romania), Fundacja Rozwoju Spoleczenstwa Przedsiebiorczego (Poland), Mais Cidadania (Portugal), Seiklejate Vennaskond (Estonia) as sending organisations and Social Youth Development (KA.NE.) as hosting organisation.

 

Operational and learning objectives, with specific indicators and structured monitoring and evaluation strategy for all stages of the project, have been set for the needs of the activity. The partners and volunteers were directly involved in all stages and were able to co-shape the final outcomes, contributing to the best possible success of the project. At the same time, the communication strategy, the visibility of the project and the dissemination of the results was structured. For all of the above, a SWOT analysis was developed and a specific timetable for preparation, activity and follow-up actions was developed in co-operation with all members of the partnership.

 

The programme included professional youth workers, trained mentors and professionals in the scientific and technological part. More specifically, each sending organization will assign a youth worker and a mentor to monitor the progress and support the volunteers, the host organization will assign the coordination to an experienced youth worker, the project management to an experienced project manager, the support a trained mentors, a professional for the reinforced mentorship. The technical part was supported by an architect (designing, coordinating the construction sub-group), a communications expert (coordinating the promotion sub-group), a non-formal learning trainer (coordinating the students' receiving group), a specialist boat manufacturer (education, counseling, monitoring), a Greek teacher, and other external experts (first aid course, safety supervision, cultural programme, educational programme). 

Bottles2boats was established in the town of Kalamata, Greece, along the Mediterranean Sea.  The local community and tourists have a lifestyle centered around the beach, which exposes people to the harsh realities of water pollution and the alarming issue with single-use plastics, particularly with plastic bottles.  Plastic bottles are sold and used widely in society, without consciousness or concern about the base material of plastic, the production process and the disposal of the used product.  Plastic bottles also make up a large percentage of waste found in the sea, beaches, bays, roadsides, and the general waste of the community.  Bottles2boats responds to this challenge focused on plastic bottle waste.

 

On another aspect, this programme also understands the growing tendency in modern society wherein children and youth spend most of their time indoors and neglect physical exercise or outdoor play.  Recognizing that physical activity is an important factor in overall health and well-being, Bottles2boats aims to incorporate this aspect into the overall programme.   

Bottles2boats had an impact on a local, regional, national, European and international levels.

 

At the local level, the creation of a network of schools was strengthened with the aim of their participation in the holistic educational-environmental program, with the result that there are thoughts for extending the program to national level. The success of the project increased the recognition of the project "From Bottles to Boats" with respect to official public bodies, such as the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Development, thus creating the basis for further national development of circular economy activities.  This is important also in terms of environmental awareness at national level but also the creation of social circular economy companies, which can solve problems such as youth unemployment and environmental. Regarding the local community of Kalamata, K.A.NE. promoted and highlighted values and goods that are not in surface on a daily basis. For example, through the entire promotion of the program, the citizens became aware of environmental issues and plastic recycling. The connection of the program with student community mobilized and educated a key part of a society: children / students who in from the whole process continue even today the recycling of plastic bottles. At the same time the contact of all citizens (young and old) with young people from different countries and cultures enhanced the sense of understanding of different cultural elements and consequently of racism. At European and international level, K.ANE in collaboration with the RADIKALA team proposed an innovative educational and environmental tool that regardless of the country of origin could and still can anyone who wants to learn more and do something similar. The innovation and uniqueness of the project motivated the volunteers even more so that they wish to spread the whole methodology abroad. At the same time, the European Solidarity Corps benefits and goals were promoted.

 

Greece is delivering very poor results when it comes to recycling. Greece is still rejecting the 80% of the plastic waste in dumps buried along with the general waste.  In parallel, there is an excessive use of single-use plastic and especially water bottles, straws, plastic coffee cups, etc. Those two elements combined, are creating an increased plastic pollution problem. The innovative aspect of this project is the combination of theory and practice and youth work activities. Youth are becoming aware through education but in parallel they are taking action to solve the problem. They are the ones collecting the plastic, the ones who are up-cycling it and the ones who are benefited by the results of their actions. The project is not only raising environmental awareness, but it is also helping young people to develop skills, competencies and attitudes. The young participants are developing the sense of initiative, technical skills which can potentially increase their employability competencies, team work, sense of belonging and the attitude of change.  The third element of the project is their active involvement in sports. By that the project is promoting healthy lifestyle as a basic pillar of the youth development.

 

Therefore, the successful combination of environmental awareness, the technical part of up-cycling and the educational impact and the sports aspects of the project, make it an innovative proposal that is easy to be implemented and can motivate young people from all over the world. 

 

The project, in addition to the participants and the organizations, had a great impact on the target groups as well as on local communities. The young students who participated directly and indirectly in the program initially developed their knowledge, became aware of environmental issues and learned about an alternative recycling approach that is combined with sports. At the same time, through the new knowledge they received, it turned out that the young people even after the end of the program they were active as they wanted to inform even more and express their opinion on environmental issues. At the same time the number of young people willing to participate in European Solidarity Body projects was increased. Finally, the people who were in contact with either the whole process of the program or part of it experienced the sense of solidarity and environmental awareness promoted by this project. Regarding the local community of Kalamata, K.A.NE. managed once again to promote and highlight values and goods, which are not on the surface, on a daily basis. For example through the whole project the citizens became aware of environmental issues and plastic recycling. The connection of the program with the student community mobilized and educated a key part of a society: the students who through the whole process continued to recycle plastic bottles even today.

 

At the same time the interaction of all citizens (young and old) with young people from different countries and cultures enhanced the sense of understanding of different cultural elements and the discrimination of racism.  Finally, this project has a direct impact on highlighting the positive contribution of the circular economy as a solution for the protection of the environment but also for the creation of innovative businesses by young people who want to do a job with a social and environmental impact.

The project is built on a simple form in order to be easily replicated in different areas and concepts. The initial step is to build a network of schools which will participate in the process. Instead of only sailboats, other useful products can be made which will not need to use the machines the boat making process is using. In this way the project can be initiated with a very low capital and slowly evolve to a full upcycling process, involving students, young people and volunteers from the local community. None of the used processes is an intellectual property and as such everyone can freely use it.

 

Our aim is to create a network of cities to take action and create further innovation in upcycling and education on environmental issues.  Bottles2boats or B2B does not support the use of plastic bottles or products, but instead, tries to make the most of existing plastic waste so that it becomes useful to society.  Each Optimist dinghy sailboat can be made with less than 200 Euros cost, while at the market costs 1200 Euros. Young people can be involved in sailing with a big budget cut on their initial costs.

 

Each sailboat needs approximately 3,100 bottles to be built. This amount of plastic waste is taken out of the municipal waste management system, reducing the costs of handling the waste for the taxpayers and in parallel, reducing the amount of waste which ends up in nature through the open landfills Greece is still using.

 

Greece is producing 0,6 million tones of plastic per year. Out of this only the 20% is being recycled. Plastic comprises 51% of the country’s pollution source. At the same time in Greece, only the 24% of the citizens is aware about the problem. Greeks use, on a daily basis, 1 million plastic coffee cups and 2 billion plastic bottles per year amongst others (data by WWF’s studies).

 

Although Bottles2boats is still in the initial phase, in order to calculate for building 10 sailboats per year, there should be 31,000 - 35,000 plastic bottles for recycling, for each year.  These bottles will be collected from the students participating in the network of schools.  In a later stage various different products will be launched to the market so to create income for the continuation of the project and its sustainability.