The Collector Highlight section shines a light on the TerraCycle collectors that want to talk about their initiative, the charity they collect for and share some tips for other collectors. Tricia, who collects with the Chalford Hill Primary School, in the Cotswolds, helps raise money for the school to found specific projects. We had a chat with her and she agreed to answer our questions about her collection.
When did you start collecting with TerraCycle and which programmes are you involved in?
I first started with the baby wipes recycling programme – which sadly does not exist anymore – when my children were young. I saw on the packaging that they could be recycled by TerraCycle and signed up on behalf of their playgroup back in 2009. When they moved up to primary school, the Parent Teacher Association there joined in too. Now my oldest is starting secondary school, they are also keen to take part, realising how much money can be made while teaching students the value of recycling.
I am involved in almost all the programmes: Air and Home care, the Cracker and Biscuit Wrappers, Writing instruments, Tassimo & L’OR, EllaCycle and the Personal Care and Beauty recycling programme with Garnier. Whenever a new programme is launched we join – and when a programme ends, which happily isn’t too often, we still get things brought to us for years afterwards.
How much waste have you collected so far?
The school and playgroup has collected more than 80 000 Tassimo Capsules, about 16 000 writing instruments, more than 56 000 cracker and biscuit wrappers and have earned over 400,000 points worth £4,000 since we started. We also recently got approval from the county council to claim recycling credits which are worth an extra £60 per tonne collected, if you collect a reasonable amount each year across all programmes ask your local council if you could be eligible.
“To raise awareness amongst children, we practised maths by working out how much money was being thrown away by not recycling the snack bar wrappers from packed lunches.”
Which charity are you collecting for? Which project(s) will the money go towards?
All money raised goes towards Chalford Hill Primary School, a small school in the Cotswolds, and the village playgroup “Puddleducks”. The money raised is used to fund specific projects. For example, the playgroup recently upgraded its outdoor play area and some major building work at the school leaves the garden area in need of some TLC – Our next project is to redevelop the garden including a shed to give a waterproof home to the recycling boxes.
Any tips that you could share to collect more waste?
It is important to have good helpers and people to support you, as checking and boxing up the items can take a lot of time and sometimes be overwhelming! We have 4 collection points in the local area, with parents, staff and local businesses helping to run them. One or two people keep an eye on each drop off location, others take responsibility for each programme with call outs for help when needed (e.g. pulling crisp packets out of the biscuit wrappers, holding the straining box lid down to tape it up!). This way, we share the load and fit in that all important socialising that too often gets squeezed out of a busy parent’s schedule.
It is also essential to constantly communicate, remind people what we collect and raise awareness. When we started collecting with TerraCycle, we distributed flyers around the village and got local community groups involved. We also installed collection boxes in locations like the porch of the church where people could easily see them.
Social media is also a great way of reminding people what we are doing and helping everyone to spread the word when we are participating in recycling competitions with TerraCycle.
Do you have any funny anecdotes to share about your collection?
I’m rarely seen on the way to or from school without a bag (or six!) of stuff in my hand so have been called the “Bag Lady” on a number of occasions. Also my family know I’m happy to be given a bag of TerraCycle recycling as a gift when we meet up so they help boost our collections too!
How do you raise awareness amongst children on the importance of recycling?
We show them the value of materials, by explaining that they earn the school one or two pence for every item they collect. We practised maths by working out how much money was being thrown away by not recycling the snack bar wrappers from packed lunches. This way, they can understand that their packaging or waste items are not rubbish but are valuable materials which can be recycled and reused. We have a biscuit wrapper collection box in the lunch hall and eco council made boxes to collect pens in each class, so children can easily collect and recycle.
City, address and opening times of the public drop off location
During term time, recycling can be brought into the school reception or given to parents of the playgroup. As access to both of these is restricted for members of the public, we also have collection boxes in Stroud District Council cafe at Ebley Mill and the Green Shop, Calf Way, Bisley has kindly provided a container in the car park entrance accessible 24/7 (coffee items go in the larger pallet on the fuel station forecourt).
Do you want your collecting to gain visibility? Would you like to talk about it and share your experience and tips? To be featured in our “Collector Highlight” section, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org