Guy Lee Elementary, Springfield

GuyLeeGuy Lee Elementary recently unveiled a 40-foot wall mural containing about 15,000 plastic caps that would otherwise have gone in the landfill.

The project was spearheaded by the school’s Green Team, comprised of 20 fourth and fifth graders at the school. The students had been collecting caps for this mural for nearly a year, a project that was designed to help the school advance to the Premier level in the Oregon Green Schools program.

Advisor Bradley Barnhart notes that the entire school was involved in the project in one way or another, collected, sorting or attaching caps.

The finished mural is made of nearly five full 4 ft by 8 ft plywood panels that are being installed in one of the hallways. Freelance artist Erica Gordon helped students select an underwater coral reef theme; research animals; and design, paint and attach caps with cordless drills. “The underwater coral reef theme and the use of plastic caps symbolically means more to us than the project itself, recycling or creation of a beautiful mural. It also reminds us of plastic litter in our oceans and the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” says Barnhart, referencing one of five major garbage patches drifting in the oceans.

Mural supplies were provided through a grant from Levi Strauss Co., and volunteers from local businesses were also involved in attaching the caps, including Sanipac and Royal Caribbean with assistance from parents and other volunteers.