“Every little act we do, over a lifetime, or a career, or any interval of time, really adds up to something substantial.” – Tilda Shalof
Tilda Shalof is a nurse who spent 28 years working at Toronto General Hospital. She worked in the intensive care unit, caring for patients and administering countless medications every day. At first she threw away all of the empty bottles, tubes and caps, as everyone did – but soon she decided to save the colourful caps, stoppers and connectors, which were still clean and sterile. Her children used them as toys, sorting by colour and shape, and even made jewellery with them. At the end of her career she had saved over 100,000 pieces of plastic and rubber from the hospital.
As her time at Toronto General Hospital came to an end, she got in touch with Vanessa Herman-Landau, a close friend and artist. Vanessa told us, “I could not believe how much she collected. There were 30 or 40 huge jars, filled with different colours, different shades, that looked just like candy.” Together they came up with the idea of a mosaic-styled mural, and spent hours over weekends putting it together.
Not only is it an incredibly beautiful piece of art, it raises awareness about the amount of waste produced in our society. When the story was initially shared on the internet, Tilda was surprised at the comments flooding in from people concerned about the environment. She said, “Imagine what could be done if all nurses and medical staff saved these pieces of otherwise discarded plastic. I would love to see the idea replicated, possibly as a team-building activity and/or partnered with an artist. It raises awareness about waste, it’s creative, collaborative, and fun!”
She added, “It’s funny how people talk about ‘the environment’. I always try to say ‘our environment.’ That brings it home how very personal it is, not some object out there that needs saving.”
We completely agree, and are so grateful to Tilda and Vanessa for creating this meaningful piece of art! It’s an incredible example of the beautiful things we can create with material destined for the landfill.
For more on this story, read thestar.com’s article.
Do you know about any other upcycled masterpieces? Tell us about them in the comments below!