Sharjah entrepreneur makes Christmas tree with recycled waste

Sharjah - A paean to a safe, merry and eco-friendly Yuletide in one of the worst years in the history of mankind

By Saman Haziq

Published: Thu 24 Dec 2020, 5:52 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Dec 2020, 5:54 PM

A Sharjah resident, with a creative bent of mind, has created an eco-friendly, handmade, sustainable Christmas tree at home in a bid to create environmental awareness about the adverse effects of plastic variants that contribute to a rise in toxic carbon footprints in the atmosphere.

Afiya VN, a structural engineer-turned entrepreneur, who works from home, is the brain behind the novel initiative. She is passionate about art and also keen to save the planet. Her twin passions lead to the creation of a ‘sustainable Christmas tree’, which is made of recyclable materials that she could find at her home.

Afiya conceptualised and crafted an eco-friendly Christmas tree using assorted disposable materials such as soup bowls, paper cups, cupcake containers, crushed aluminum foils, coffee stirs, red tissue papers in less than three hours.

Her creation, which is 4.5 feet (ft) in height and 3 ft wide, is a replica of a regular Christmas tree. She has mounted her paper-light work of art in the living room of the apartment and decorated it with coloured lights.

Initially, she took cardboard and stuck some paper soup bowls on it. Later, she spray-painted it in green to get a look and feel of a regular Christmas tree.

“My four-year-old daughter has always been fascinated by the idea of Santa Claus. And, this Christmas, we’re planning a big surprise for her. We plan to keep the gifts below the tree. She is a good, obedient girl and has been working hard. This year has been a washout because of the raging novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak. The Christmas tree is a token of appreciation to bring to life about her fascinations, which are largely inspired by characters in cartoons and films. She believes that Santa Claus will leave behind some gifts for her under the Christmas tree. This is how I got the idea to make a Christmas tree. I thought why not make her dreams come true? I used my creative talents and also conveyed a green message. The eco-friendly Christmas tree is an ode to my daughter’s innocence and a green planet,” Afiya told Khaleej Times.

Afiya had a habit of collecting titbits and knick-knacks such as shells, feathers, stamps, coins, bottle tops, rags and any leftover material or scraps and creating artworks using paper craft, seeds, spices etc since her formative years.

Though she came to Dubai a year ago, she struggled to find a suitable job in her field of structural engineering because of the viral outbreak.

Unfazed by the Covid-19 induced reverses in her professional career, she started recycling waste materials, plastics and bottles and started making artwork out of discarded items.

Soon, she started taking part in online creative competitions, exhibitions and expos, where people took notice of her creative talent and approached her to buy the creations and also asked her to organise workshops.

The structural engineer morphed into a home entrepreneur, who struck a chord with her clients by creating handmade home décor, in no time. She promoted her creations on her Instagram page @handmadebyafiya.

She hit upon the idea to create a Christmas tree with discarded materials in this unusual year ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“On Tuesday, while I was designing home décors for my customers for Yuletide, I realised that celebrations are incomplete without a Christmas tree. However, I was unable to find the right materials till I came across leftover packaging stuff such as soup bowls and tissue papers. I believe that all things, irrespective of small or big, have their own intrinsic worth and value. We can transform anything into a thing of beauty that can remain eternal. For instance, this Christmas tree is an image, a symbol and my heartfelt message to this world that we are on the threshold of healing...festivals are moments of joy and togetherness that transcend religion, nationality, colour or creed,” she added.

Afiya seeks to create an awareness among her clients about the importance of recycled waste in a bid to save the planet and encourage sustainable living.

The recycled Christmas tree is her paean to a safe, merry and eco-friendly Yuletide in one of the worst years in the history of mankind.

Afiya and her daughter pose alongside the sustainable Christmas tree. Photo: Saman Haziq
Afiya and her daughter pose alongside the sustainable Christmas tree. Photo: Saman Haziq

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