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Flowery grave for plastics

YEAR 10 Friends School student Lily Neyland unveiled her ‘Floral Grief’ sculpture investigating the impact of plastic flowers on the environment at Cornelian Bay on 18 May.

Lily created her project as part of the school’s Independent Negotiated Project unit that requires students to construct an individual learning plant with the goal of inquiring into an area of passion.

For Lily, that interest lay within examining the impact that the plastic flowers from the cemetery have on the environment.

“I used to go to the Cornelian Bay Bushcare sessions, and a lot of their work ended up being picking up plastic flowers that were blown out of the Cornelian Bay Cemetery,” Lily said.

“When I was about five, I picked up a bunch of these plastic flowers and they’ve remained in our back garden ever since, and it has really reinforced in me the idea of how long these plastics do stay in our environment.”

Lily said it was a problem she had been aware of for a while and decided that a sculpture would be a creative and engaging way of making people realise what the problem was.

“The sculpture is in the shape of a coffin, a symbol of death, with a model of the Earth inside it, and I wanted to represent how if we don’t make a change, if we don’t stop using plastic flower and other plastics in general, our Earth is going to die,” she said.

“It took me about 55 hours to make and it’s made with about 20 large bags of plastic flowers that I collected from the bushland and foreshore around the cemetery.”

Plastic flowers are convenient to use, but they last in the environment for years, blow off graves into surrounding bushland and the ocean, and break down into harmful microplastics.

Lily said she hoped the sculpture helped people to reconsider placing plastic flower on their loved one’s graves and instead choose a more environmentally friendly option.

“There are so many alternatives that people can use to commemorate loved ones such as flowers they’ve grown at home, by planting a shrub or by donating to a charity,” she said.

“Try to use reusable things or things that are better for the environment when commemorating your loved ones.

“Even with other plastics in your life – try and reduce the use of them.”

The sculpture will be on display at Cornelian Bay until 15 June.

Caption: Lily Neyland with her ‘Floral Grief’ sculpture. Photo credit: Zoe Geard.