American University of Nigeria’s Office of Sustainability is set to place the institution in the Guinness Book of World Records (GWR) via its unique waste-to-wealth management programme. On Friday, April 24, an unprecedented 485 people ended 20 minutes of simultaneous crocheting, using plastic yarn made from waste polythene.
The Most People Crocheting Simultaneously record, was achieved five years ago in New York City at a Stitch ‘N’ Pitch event organised by the National Needlearts Association, at the Citi Field stadium, New York during which 426 people crocheted for 15 minutes using yarn. The unique thing about this event is the ecological twist where the crocheters’ use plarn, the yarn made from used polythene bags.
Members of Yola EcoSentials (YES), a group of female social entrepreneurs promoted by AUN, took participants through the process before the kick-off of the simultaneous crocheting. The event served to enlighten the community about the university’s waste-to-wealth initiative.
The group needlework was sponsored by the Student Government Association of AUN, to sensitize residents of Yola, the Adamawa State capital about the hazards of non-biodegradable litter. It was also aimed at surpassing the current Guinness World Record held by Americans.
“We have yet to receive official notice from the Guinness World Record administrators who are based in the USA,” according to Jelena Zivkovic, the Director of the AUN Learning Resource Center and coordinator of the GWR committee. Ms. Zivkovic read out the rules of the competition and urged the participants to adhere strictly to rules to avoid the AUN attempt being disqualified. The activity ended at exactly 20 minutes. There were external observers as witnesses.
“You can make money from it,” says Jennifer Che, Co-ordinator of Sustainability Outreach Programs and Laboratories. Chief Information Officer, Mr. Julius Ayuk Tabe, representing the AUN President, Professor Margee Ensign at the kick-off, said: “In the light of negative news coming from the north-east, whenever the story of tenacity and togetherness is told, your achievement today will be a reference. This is what your sense of togetherness, teamwork, and can-do-it spirit has made possible today.”
The GWR attempt was an illustration of AUN’s sustainability programs and demonstrates commitment to challenging the status quo – getting AUN students involved in world events by promoting recycling and sustainability. In Yola, the lack of a conventional waste collection system and bins/dumpsites is one of the main reasons residents dump their waste (including grocery bags), and then burn it, causing a major health hazard for humans and animals, including respiratory illnesses, gastric problems, and shortened life expectancy.
The University began a program some years ago to address local unemployment and this environmental hazard. As a result, Yola women, under the auspices of YES, have made waste plastic (plarn) into colourful, eco-friendly accessories. “It is our hope,” says Ms. Che, “that this event will raise awareness on how recycling our products, in this case, plarn, can keep the environment clean and healthy, and as well provide an income for the needy in the community.”