Positive People – Marion Bernardi

With the world at our fingertips through modern technology, one woman with an eye for design has an ingenious plan for getting children in on the act of sorting recyclable waste.

São Paulo is playing host to an unsustainable mountain of waste, stemming from a general lack of active participation in disposing of it properly. In 2018, it was estimated that the people of this Brazilian city recycled just seven per cent of the waste they produced. Had more of them known about how to recycle, it is claimed closer to 40 per cent of such waste could have been recycled.

Marion Bernardi, a student at L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique in Nantes, France, has proposed an ingenious way of getting kids in on the act of recycling more.

Teach them while they’re young

“I am from Brittany in France”, Marion tells us. “However, I was born in the South East of France and I grew up there until I was eight years old. My family moved to Brittany because of my parents’ jobs. So, I am used to living in the countryside as well as in the city and I know the characteristics of those two ways of living.”

Marion was enrolled on an art class in high school when she realised her love for creating objects from scratch. Enrolling to do design studies at L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique was a logical next step for her. She took advantage of a chance to get some experience in design while studying abroad briefly, moving for a time to pursue a Master’s degree in Transcultural Design in São Paolo.

Beyond education through play, Marion manages to create a link between the world of home and that of school. It addresses the very essence of an intercultural program.

– Benjamin Gagneux, Head of Brazil Studio at L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique

“For my end of studies project”, she says, “I decided to work on the waste sorting issue in São Paulo, and finally, I created the Recicla Dia a Dia project.”

Recicla Dia a Dia (Recycle Day by Day in Portuguese), is an ambitious idea whereby kids are hooked into the habit of recycling more directly through a special classroom-based contest. With the help of smartphone technology, participants in Recicla Dia a Dia can take part through an app, along with a supply of special custom-made tokens (RACs) and an array of engaging activities to get them on the right path.

No one imagines having much joy having to sift through the daily detritus that is produced from modern living, but Marion Bernardi’s concept aims to achieve it in a fun way. Recyclable waste can come in all shapes and sizes, made from specific materials which need to be disposed of in particular ways. The Recicla Dia a Dia app is specially-designed to educate the user, so they know how to dispose of most forms of recyclable plastic, glass, paper and metal items, all without having to chuck them in landfill. It comes through the use of a ‘Separador’ or ‘separator’, an interactive guide on the app, which informs the child about whether waste is dry recyclable or not, via a set of clear questions.

For example, have you ever wondered how PET differs from PVC or PEAD? Or what happens to green and clear-glass bottles? The app asks those questions and more. The app keeps the topic exciting, using colourful cartoon-y characters in the form of fizzy drink cans, plastic bottles and banana peels with faces to give it a distinctive child-led look.

A refreshing look at waste

Marion Bernardi’s Recicla Dia a Dia concept, which was on display at La Cale 2 Créateurs at L’École de Design Nantes Atlantique between mid-September and early October 2021, was reportedly inspired by Marion realising Brazilian roommates of hers didn’t actually recycle their own waste at university.

“To progress in the competition and get rewards”, Marion explains, “the child must level up by gaining experience. Experience can be gained by bringing in bags of dry recyclables counted by the teacher and by completing weekly ‘Lixo Zero’ (zero waste) challenges. These challenges allow the child to act daily for the environment by learning simple practices to reduce their consumption.”

Benjamin Gagneux, Head of Brazil Studio at Marion’s university, wrote: “Beyond education through play, Marion manages to create a link between the world of home and that of school. It addresses the very essence of an intercultural program. Through the observation of cultural differences in the field, she wishes to provide a global and coherent solution to a major issue.” If primary school children can be enticed to sort their rubbish in a more sustainable way, future generations may grow up with a more intrinsic sense of value when it comes to the waste they produce. For this, Marion deserves recognition, finding an effective way of taking a complex problem and creating a sense of fun while educating the youth of today. Looking for a way to get kids engaged in saving the planet? There’s an app for that.

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