Grainney Sheard, Arts Engagement Officer with the Isle of Man Arts Council, tells us how traditional pre-Christmas willow lantern-making workshops are more eco-friendly this year in line with the organisation's Biosphere pledge:
Each November, the Isle of Man Arts Council runs willow lantern-making for the community.
Led by members of the Isle of Man Government’s Arts Team, the sessions give families the chance to construct their own illuminated lanterns, using paper glued around a willow frame to form a wide variety of shapes and designs.
The arts team has made changes to the workshops this year to eliminate single-use plastics.
As a UNESCO Biosphere Partner, the Arts Council is committed to more sustainable practices where possible.
Plastic tablecloths are replaced with reusable versions
Since I began in my post with the Arts Council, I have been conscious of our use of plastics at these workshops and have been keen to find more eco-friendly alternatives.
This year I am proud to say that we have made a conscious effort to reduce the number of single-use plastics involved in the workshops.
We have invested in more sustainable materials such as reusable tablecloths and aprons as well as encouraging families to come to the workshops in their old clothing to reduce the number of plastic protective aprons needed.
We hope that these changes will result in the workshops being more environmentally friendly as well as encouraging our participants to be mindful of sustainable practices.
Our aim is to support our ecosystem and make decisions that will benefit the environment. It is important for us to be mindful of unnecessary materials and their negative environmental impact.
These changes come as part of our pledge to Unesco Biosphere Isle of Man as proud partners.
We encourage all of our participants to wear old clothing to this event so that we may avoid the use of single-wear aprons. Haven't got any old clothes? You can pick up a second-hand men's shirt from the charity shop and wear it back to front, like an apron.
Due to the risks involved with having open-flame candles in lanterns, we offer our participants glow sticks as a safer alternative. However, we recommend bringing your own battery pack fairylights with rechargeable batteries. They provide a more efficient source of light and can be reused year upon year to light your willow lantern.
The traditional parade
Families and people of all ages are invited to participate in the workshop sessions at the Villa Marina Arcade, Douglas, on the 7th, 8th, 14th and 15th November.
The workshops precede the Douglas Christmas lights switch-on, which features a willow lantern parade ending in the Villa Marina Arcade for carols and refreshments. This year's parade takes place on the 19th November.
Workshops are free but places are limited and must be booked via bookable via Eventbrite.