Appoint a sustainability officer
There's a lot to think about before a big fundraising event, which is why many PTAs form a sub-committee to plan and run summer fairs. Ask a parent who is passionate about the environment to take on the role of sustainability officer on your organising committee.
What does a sustainability officer do?
- Sources biodegradable plates and crockery
- Sources green raffle prizes
- Makes sure crockery is washed and packed away
- Sets up and spreads awareness of recycling schemes
- Ensures waste is properly disposed of during clear-up
When planning eco-friendly fair stalls, key points to remember are: make use of what's already available, use supplies that last and avoid products that will become landfill.
Recycle: Run a craft stall with recycled items collected from parents and leftover art materials from the school. Base your stalls around items that are easy to borrow - for example, three buckets and a ball is all you need for a bucket throw.
Hold a prize amnesty for unwanted party favours, sweets and toys.
Use supplies that last: Put out a call to supporters who like to make things. Activities such as a punch-a-pot board or splat-the-rat pipe can be used every year.
Avoid stalls that harm the environment: Balloon pops and crockery smashes are fun for the children, but the resulting popped balloons and smashed plates at the end of the event is a high price to pay.
The more there is for children to do, the longer they will stay at your fair. Take advantage of having an event outdoors by putting pupils in touch with nature. For example, use compost, seeds, clay powder and water to set up a seed-bomb-making stall. If you have an area at your school that could be turned into a bee garden, invite makers to plant their seeds by throwing their bombs into the flowerbed when they're finished.
You could also set up a 'bird table', where children can pick from different types of seeds to create unique bird food for their gardens, make fat balls or create bird feeders out of old plastic bottles. The RSPB has lots of different ideas. Ensure you omit nut butter and nuts if you're a nut-free school.
Another idea is to source ceramic plant pots and then invite pupils to decorate them. Encourage green fingers by handing out envelopes of seeds to plant when they get home. Check with your local garden centre to ensure you choose a variety that will grow in summer.
With more and more people going vegan or generally eating less meat, make sure you offer vegan and vegetarian options as well as meat. Use local suppliers to reduce food miles, and sell drinks in cans and glass bottles rather than plastic.
You could also offer a discount for those that bring their own reusable cup for hot drinks, or invest in reusable crockery. Yvette Hill, PTA treasurer at Kineton Green Primary School in Solihull, says: 'Our school PTA has a reusable party kit that we hire out to anybody local to reduce the need for single-use plastics at parties. We purchased colourful items for £25 from Ikea, and are now members of a reusable party kit network (partykitnetwork.uk), which is free to register with and enables us to offer the hire service to our local community.
We ask for a £5 donation when hiring out the kit, and get about one hire per month. The feedback has been great as it saves money, there's zero waste and the rainbow colours work with any theme.'