Reuse and recycle
We have a problem - there's too much stuff in
the world. But why not turn this into a positive? Take a look at
what you can reuse or recycle. Not only will you save money,
but you can stop unwanted items and waste from going to landfill,
give people a good excuse for a clear-out and raise
awareness of environmental issues. Here are some ideas to get
When it comes to sustainability, the focus is often
on recycling. But it's even better to use something for a second or
third time. Reusing doesn't just mean using the item as it was
originally intended to be used (such as in a bric-a-brac sale); it
can also mean giving it a new lease of life by turning it into
something completely different.
Ecobricks: An Ecobrick is a
single-use plastic bottle that has been packed with non-recyclable
plastic to make a sturdy building material. The qualities that make
non-recyclable plastic so damaging to the environment is what gives
Ecobricks their longevity when used to build structures, furniture
and paths. You need considerable manpower to make enough Ecobricks
to build something, which makes it ideal for a school environment.
Challenge pupils to create Ecobricks at home, raising awareness of
single-use plastic with both pupils and parents. Find out more,
including building ideas, at ecobricks.org.
Tip: Plastic bottles can also be used
independently to build structures such as greenhouses, but be aware
that you will normally need to collect many bottles of the same
size. Don't encourage single plastic use to reach your
Crafty fair activities: Hands-on
activities are fantastic at fairs, giving visitors more to do and
often meaning they stay for longer while they wait for items to
dry. See what you can source and build your activities around it.
Collect unwanted goods from parents and local businesses, including
fabric off-cuts, wastepaper and written-off products - many shops
will throw away items they no longer have space for, so ask if they
have anything you can save from landfill. Make collecting a
competition to see which class can gather the most recycling (make
it clear that you'll only accept cleaned items). If you have any
crafty parents, challenge them to think of as many ways as they can
to reuse what you've collected. Test-drive your ideas to make sure
they work and look at Pinterest for inspiration.
If you're providing extra decorating materials, remember to make
sure these are also eco-friendly - biodegradable glitter, for
Tip: This could also be an event in
itself held after school, which would work especially well in the
run-up to Mother's or Father's Day.
Buengo: This is a buying and selling
app with a difference. Sellers post items for sale, pick the cause
they'd like to support and when the item is sold, all profit goes
to that cause. Using Buengo means you can hold a virtual sale where
parents don't have to commit time to a specific event - they can
sell and buy the items themselves with the proceeds going to the
PTA. Visit buengo.com to find out more.
Bric-a-brac sale: Hold a bric-a-brac
sale either as an inside table-top or outside car boot event,
depending on which is more suitable for your school. Hold the sale
on a Saturday and give parents plenty of notice so they can sort
through their lofts, wardrobes and cupboards. Ask for donations to
be brought to school in bags on a Friday afternoon, and
allocate a sub-committee to sort the items into books, toys and
games, bric-a-brac and different types of clothing. Either price
goods or give buyers some discretion with recommended
Swishing evening: Prevent clothes
from going to landfill with a clothes-swapping evening. Guests
bring in their clothes in exchange for a voucher, which they can
then use to buy back the same number of items as they brought in.
All items should be freshly laundered, ironed and in good repair.
Charge a 'per person' admission fee to raise funds, and invite
external stallholders to attend, selling beauty products, gifts or
Used book swap: Ask people to bring
in their old books to swap with others, making money through an
admission fee and refreshments. Sort the books into age groups and
get children and adults involved. You could invite them to dress up
and serve themed goodies to make it a more magical experience.
Second-hand uniform: Giving school
uniform another turn means families save money, and items that
would otherwise go to landfill are reused. If you have a handy
parent who's willing to take on the second-hand sale, you can make
it about even more than just receiving and reselling items. Damaged
clothes can be upcycled - for example, you could make hair
scrunchies from stained or damaged summer dresses, or reuse the
buttons from an unrepairable cardigan.
Recycling schemes are a fantastic way to raise money
without the time and effort of holding an event. For volunteers who
want to help but are short of time, running one or two recycling
collections a year can be their contribution. Encourage local
businesses to support your scheme to maximise your profits.
Potential fundraisers include:
Textiles: Clothes, curtains,
bedding, shoes and soft toys can all be recycled through textile
collection companies such as rags2riches4schools.co.uk, who pay a fixed
price per kilo of clothing collected.
Printer cartridges: Collect printer
cartridges from your school and local businesses by sending out
letters and providing collection boxes. Companies such as emptiesplease.com will pay around £1 for
every cartridge they can recycle.
CDs/DVDs/games: Websites such
as musicmagpie.co.uk pay for old media. Enter
the barcodes of CDs, DVDs and games (or scan through its handy app)
to see how much they are worth and then send them off via Freepost.
As long as the original sleeve is intact, with a visible barcode on
the back, it can be recycled (but do make it clear to parents that
promotional DVDs and CDs, such as those that come free with
newspapers, don't count).
TerraCycle: This international
programme allows you to recycle the 'non-recyclable', including
coffee capsules, pens and crisp packets, and earn funds for your
school while you do it. TerraCycle offers free recycling programmes
funded by brands, manufacturers and retailers around the world to
help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste.
Choose the programmes you'd like to join; start
collecting in school; download free shipping labels and send in
your waste to be recycled. Many of TerraCycle's programmes offer
TerraCycle points, which are redeemable for 1p per point for your
school. Points vary by programme, and there is often a minimum
weight, which is where promoting the scheme to your school and the
wider community will help. It's not the biggest earner, but it does
reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and incinerators and
raise environmental awareness while topping up school
funds. Visit terracycle.com/en-GB to find out more and enrol
your school as an official collection point. TerraCycle also has a
range of free resources, including posters, guides and upcycling
Check out our suppliers'
directory for a list of recycling companies near you.
'We upcycle empty glass bottles'
'One of our PTA committee members had the wonderful
idea of upcycling empty glass bottles into bottle lights. With so
many gins in beautiful bottles out there, it seemed a fantastic
opportunity to make something useful and attractive from
the empties. Fancy prosecco bottles work really well, too. LED
string lights can be purchased online, complete with a battery pack
in the 'cork', and are easy to pop into a clean, empty bottle. The
batteries can be replaced so the lights have a long shelf life.
Initially, we asked parents to donate their empties, but the bottle
lights proved so popular, we struggled to obtain enough to keep up
with demand. One of our members therefore started forging
relationships with local pubs and bars, who we found were more than
happy to donate their empty bottles. We sell the bottle lights for
Sarah Everson, PTA secretary, Halsford Park Primary
School, East Grinstead, West Sussex (415 pupils)
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