Creativity challenge: Repurposing items destined for landfill

At Gould League we have this strange habit – when we drive through our local industrial estates and business hubs, we are constantly thinking “…ooh, I wonder what they could share with us?”! This innate habit we have of repurposing things in creative ways is inescapable!

Recently, our local Tasman Market Fresh Meats provided us with some fantastic signage to use in our ‘Waste Wise Shopping’ display in our Sustainability Centre in Cheltenham. Destined for the bin, these lovely vinyl signs will live on for years to come and help spark the imagination of hundreds of students engaging in our reduce, reuse, recycle themed programming on excursion.

How could your school, centre or organisation get creative and reuse some items as valuable treasure that are otherwise destined for landfill?

Look around you, and have your students and colleagues do the same: what could local businesses or industry in your community be sharing with you? It could be as simple as coffee grounds for your compost bin (like our volunteer Lorraine used to get for our garden!), shredded paper for your messy play area, newspapers for your waste systems or guinea pig cages, wooden pallets to make vertical herb gardens, corflute signage scraps to create garden minibeast mats or old tyres to make herb planters. Think outside the box!

A recent ABC news article on the way students at Ainslie Primary School in Canberra are using “junk” donated by a local re-use facility called The Green Shed is inspiring! Stored in shipping containers in the playground, the “play pods” of materials are opened by teachers at recess and children create cubbies, mud kitchens and more with this wonderful loose parts play of re-purposed items! How fantastic is that?

A new online resource ASPIRE: Advisory System for Processing, Innovation & Resource Exchange is CSIRO’s wonderful tool to aid in this process too. It’s a waste “match-making” service, that has been developed “in response to manufacturing companies talking to their local councils about waste disposal costs”. The online platform can connect schools who are seeking a particular resource or ‘INPUT’ (as they are referred to in the system, for example timber pallets or bubblewrap), with a local business who has these items as their ‘OUTPUT’.

Here’s ASPIRE’s short video about some specific case studies, and a list below of just some of the materials available through the ASPIRE program in collaboration with our local council, the City of Kingston.

Bubblewrap & plastic pallets
Laminate & melanine
Cleanfill soil, rock & stone
Cardboard, paper & newspaper
Fabric & leather
Compost & manures
Bark, woodchips & sawdust
Natural & synthetic rubbers
Hardwood, plywood & pallet timber
Oil & water based paints

What could you create for your school? Share your ideas and projects with us on our Facebook community!

Happy treasure hunting and repurposing. Watch out, it’s addictive!

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