River of Recyclables

By Mary Ellen Wade

Baltimore activist artist, Bridget Parlato created the “River of Recyclables” at Loyola Maryland last spring. It is a project designed to involve and inspire the community on the topic of sustainability to be-come stronger stewards of our environment. The owner of “Baltimore Trash Talk,” Bridget makes public works using found trash while raising awareness about recycling and the need for a bottle bill. After months of collaborative planning between the artist,associate professor of studio arts Janet Maher, and Taylor Casalena, an employee with sustainability initiatives, Loyola students, faculty,staff, and administrators collected over 3,500 plastic bottles and cans with which Bridget could create the “River.” 

Section of artist Bridget Parlato's "River of Recyclables" created in collaboration with the Loyola University Maryland community on the Quad.

Section of artist Bridget Parlato's "River of Recyclables" created in collaboration
with the Loyola University Maryland community on the Quad.

Students from studio arts and Sustainability, Messina students, and members of the student Environmental Action Club (EAC) assisted.Throughout the day, Bridget engaged in discussions with participating classes and others visiting the “River,” explaining her motivations behind the project and encouraging further efforts toward sustainable practices at Loyola. Taylor and EAC students assisted with conversations about Loyola’s current initiatives and re-cycling resources. Janet led students and staff in an additional art project using caps from the collected bottles for the “River.” These pieces will be displayed on Loyola’s campus with information about the “River” and its purpose helping extend the message and intention of this event beyond just the day on the quad. The day concluded with a gathering and reflection about the event before total de-installation and final recycling. A further meeting with Bridget, Janet, and Taylor and interested faculty and staff will generate requests to Loyola’s administration for additional efforts toward sustainable practices at Loyola. 

Mary Ellen Wade is associate director of the Messina Living-Learning Community Program at Loyola University of Maryland.

All photos are courtesy of Fr. Timothy Brown, Dan Schalpbach, and Janet Maher.