AEPA - activate environmental protection through art
Organisation : TEATRO METAPHORA - Associação de Amigos das Artes , Portugal

Our organisation rescues and transforms large quantities of urban waste into massive art installations and exhibits them in the centre of our town, Câmara de Lobos. Besides the art installations, we have side activities based on non-formal education methods and upcycling. The main idea of the project is to activate citizens toward environmental protection and raise awareness about climate change, sustainable development and responsible consumption. We integrate people from different social backgrounds, especially youngsters, mostly with fewer opportunities to engage and inspire them to become active citizens and environmentalists.

EU Green Deal Policy Areas Addressed
Climate actionSustainable mobilityBiodiversity
Eliminating pollution
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Nurture a sharing economy
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
Teatro Metaphora

We live on a small island and the trash is immense. There is an urgent need to make citizens aware! Due to indifferent actions and ignorance, our future is in danger and it is really important to rethink and take responsibility for our behavior. Since last year, our organisation decided to implement specific systematic activities about environmental protection and citizen activation. We are addressing how much trash we make and awakening people to take actions, becoming responsible consumers. We spread messages not only for our community, but around the world, as many tourists are visiting our island during the year. We collect trash regularly, from beaches and other places, with our local and international volunteers, and we collaborate with public and non-governmental entities, local enterprises, and schools. We try to engage everyone, no matter their age or occupation. If people are engaged, there’s hope and motivation!

In Action
Teatro Metaphora

In 2021, we definitely decided to fight against the lack of participation in the environmental issues and take systematic action to raise awareness about sustainable life-styles. We saw the importance of having an organised programme and, as it worked well in the last year, we are doing the same activities this year too. They are based on non-formal education and everyone is invited to participate.

Among other actions, we make movie discussions and street campaigns about the topic, eco-marathons (which are activities where people hike and collect the trash along the way), eco-workshops about how to make eco-friendly products, upcycling workshops about how to give new life to the used materials, and we host study visits and sessions about environmental education and sustainability.

In 2021, we created a street art installation called “The Message”, made up of urban waste that we collected around the island. Our idea was to raise awareness and activate participation, not only for our community, but around the world, regarding the topic of sustainability. (Video link: )

The huge canvas we did using soda cans, and the barrels in which we cultivated plants represented the endangered island Laurissilva forest, which contains unique plants and animals. Our organisation hosts many volunteers from abroad and with, the local community, they are actively involved in the on-going process.

In 2022, we have collected a lot of barrels, from which we made the big canvas and hanging chandeliers. We also collected hundreds of metal pots and turned them into chandeliers. We called this art exhibition “Screams”.  See the video here:

The faces may represent the state of our planet, and we wanted people to reflect about the ongoing problems and public issues.

These systematic activities and street art installations aim to:

- make people more responsible, wiser and more sustainable consumers as well as active citizens;

- to increase the level of knowledge about sustainable development from environmental, social, and economic approaches;

- to mobilise people to work together, reinforcing values of friendship, cooperation, responsibility, and mutual respect;

- to activate people in environmental protection action and arouse curiosity in good ecological practices and behavior;

- to raise awareness and to teach about a sustainable lifestyle;

- to promote social inclusion, active participation and help people to improve their creative skills;

- to connect the local and international community.


The understanding and awareness level of the 2030 Agenda remains low among the population according to the Global Survey on Sustainability and the SDGs, which makes governments accountability much more difficult. Our action aims to fight social apathy and the lack of active participation. That’s why we are directly collaborating with public and governmental and private entities. Our organisation has a voice on the national and international levels. We continue to be invited to public and online conferences about the circular economy, sustainable development, and climate change. Our action gives inspiration to our government and other organisations to start reusing urban waste. Making art installations from trash became an innovative way to connect the local and international community, raise awareness about social inclusion and help people to improve their artistic and creative skills, and to become active participants in society. These past two years our activities have played a key role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and on advocacy related to the SDGs.

Participation in our activities is free of charge. Everyone is invited to come and contribute in the best way they can. For some specific activities, we provide food and transportation, so nobody stays behind due to economic or geographical obstacles. It is possible to contribute to the project in different ways and in different stages, whether it is during implementation, dissemination, preparation, etc. People can contribute simply by collecting materials and bringing them to the association, by phone calls asking friends, family or others to collect urban waste.

Our activities are interesting and attractive; we educate people on environmental issues and sustainable development by showing examples and involving them, giving them possibilities to develop a set of skills that will increase their future opportunities.

Teatro Metaphora

The organisation's artwork done by urban waste attracts thousands of viewers and involves many people in the creative process. When we started building the art installations, the local community was a bit hushed, but gradually the interest grew, and soon everybody loved and contributed to making the project go further.

Our community behaviors and attitude are positively changing. Under the project we are engaging and educating people with fewer opportunities, and we reach around 7,000 beneficiaries every year only in the field of youth. We were awarded with the European Sustainability Award by The European Commission. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation awarded us with The Gulbenkian Sustainability Award too.


We implement good practices by making environmental activities and raising awareness. Using non-formal methods of education, art and creative workshops, movie discussions, street campaigns, clean-ups and many other activities which have the purpose of encouraging citizens to be more environmentally conscious. We are increasing the community's level of knowledge for topics related to climate change, consumerism and sustainable lifestyle, and giving them opportunities to feel that their actions can influence the lives of other people and contribute to the diminishment of human impact on the environment. We always evaluate and disseminate the activities. The evaluation is carried out during the preparation, implementation and final phase of the project. Through the registration forms and lists of participants, we are able to assess how many people we have directly reached, we see their ages, motivation and other aspects. During the implemented activities, through observations and reflections we get feedback. We also provide short surveys where participants evaluate the performance of the youth facilitators, the activities, the relevance of the project and the logistical conditions. After each activity, we analyse how each session took place, evaluate our performance and make improvements, when necessary. The results of the activities are published on social networks and this also allow us to assess how many people in the community were directly and indirectly affected, the number of shares and “likes”, the number of comments, among other interactions. In the final phase of the project, and already in the pre-report phase, we analyse all the data mentioned above and prepare a final report of the obtained results.

Challenges and lessons learned
Teatro Metaphora

In the beginning we were afraid that the community would not understand our ideas and would not be engaged in our activities. We already knew that the main obstacle could be a lack of participation. But little by little, we managed to involve people.  During the activities we learned that to engage people we need to overcome our fears and show a good example, in this way everyone is ready to give a hand, participate and little by little their behaviors are positively changing. Enjoyment is key!



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