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Making sustainability child’s play

A Melbourne-based company is combining puppet-making and trash to share the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ message. 

When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.”

While Jim Henson’s famous saying may reflect a common-enough sentiment, but the incremental betterment of the world and humanity doesn’t usually cause puppets to spring to mind. For one Melbourne-based company, however, that is exactly what is entailed within its efforts to make the world a better place.

Jhess Knight worked within the local puppetry industry for the past five years before realising the joys of using recycled or reused materials. Alongside her good friend, Lucy Hedt, she has since developed the Trash Puppets initiative, which combines entertainment with education in the sustainability space.

“During my Master’s at the London School of Puppetry, we were encouraged to create mock-ups of our puppets. Quick and rough, a process that enabled us to see the design of our puppet and what the challenges might be,” explains Jhess. “Usually thrown together with basic materials such as newspaper or cardboard, I often found myself falling in love. Their simplicity was incredibly charming and made them even more magical when they came to life.”

The process of making Trash Puppets thus came about organically, and Jhess found the process to be therapeutic in its own right. “I knew this was something I wanted to share,” she says.

After having the idea suggested by a friend who works as a schoolteacher, Jhess and Lucy have gone on to create a profitable business in teaching kids to make puppets from rubbish – but it also has applications beyond the classroom.

To read more, see page 36 of Issue 10.