Activity Introduction


mobile phones for recycling heroQuick summary: Students will explore the relationships between the arts and the environment. They will look at the relationship some artists play in raising public awareness about sustainability and environmental issues. Students then create an artwork made from recyclable materials including old mobile phones.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 8.39.40 AMFollowing this lesson plan is an ideal way for your school to take part in MobileMuster. You’ll be joining thousands of amazing teachers in making a difference and creating positive environmental change. Take part in the Schools Recycling Right Challenge for Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week. Register your lesson or other activities today!


Learning goals:

  • Students consider how art and our environment intersect;
  • Students will see how artists can play a key role in bringing awareness to environmental issues;
  • Students will have created their own artwork made of recyclable materials.

General Capabilities: Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding. 

Australian Curriculum content description:

Years 9 and 10 Visual Arts:

  • Manipulate materials, techniques, technologies and processes to develop and represent their own artistic intentions (ACAVAM126)
  • Plan and design artworks that represent artistic intention (ACAVAM128)
  • Analyse a range of visual artworks from contemporary and past times to explore differing viewpoints and enrich their visual art-making, starting with Australian artworks, including those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and consider international artworks (ACAVAR131)

Year 9 English:

  • Analyse how the construction and interpretation of texts, including media texts, can be influenced by cultural perspectives and other texts (ACELY1739)

Year 10 English:

  • Analyse and evaluate how people, cultures, places, events, objects and concepts are represented in texts, including media texts, through language, structural and/or visual choices (ACELY1749)

Syllabus Outcomes: EN5-7D, EN5-8DVAS5.6, VAS5.5, VAS5.10

Topic: Consumption, National Recycling Week, Mobile Muster, Up-cycling.

Time required: 2 – 4 lessons

Resources required: Internet access; Fact sheet: Environmental Art; Images: Chris Jordan Photographic images; Materials for artworks (including old mobile phones).

Digital learning opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities, TED Talk given by Chris Jordan, Turning powerful stats into art

Homework and extension opportunities: Ask students to find examples of other environmental artists. Students should review the artists and identify how they communicate their ideas.

Keywords: Recycling, waste, arts, environment, up-cycling, sustainability.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

pink-flowerTeacher preparation:

Overarching learning goal: By participating in this activity students will understand that environmental art is a theme of art aimed at increasing our appreciation of the natural environment. They will learn that environmental art can take a range of forms and can have a variety of intentions, and they will understand that they have the ability to create their own piece of environmental art.

Teacher content information: If the purpose of art is to make you look a little closer and to think a little deeper about the world, then it makes sense that artists would be explore the natural environment in their art. Increasingly, environmental art is being explored as a way of interrogating human relationships with the natural world and as a way of improving our relationship with nature.

However, not all environmental art is about taking environmental action. Broadly speaking, environmental art can be broken down into several loose categories:

  • Art that describes the
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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: What is the purpose of art?

The term environmental art can be used to refer to art describing the natural world or celebrating the natural world. Chris Jordan is one of the world's most important artists of social commentary. His artwork explores consumer behaviour and our impact on the environment. Watch Chris Jordan's video below (11 minutes).

Turning Powerful Stats into Art' (

After watching the video complete the '3-2-1' Thinking Routine:

Record 3 things you have learned  Record 2 things you have questions about  Record 1 thing you want to know about


Click here to look at Chris Jordan's artwork.  After you have become familiar with the artworks, answer each of the following questions:

Question  Answer

1. What is the artist's preferred art form?


2. What parts of society is the artist commenting on?


3. What are some of the arti

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