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How to Host an End-of-Year Recycling and Reuse Event at Your School

school supplies can be reused

School is (almost) out for summer! While students and teachers may be tempted to throw papers aimlessly in the air and run out of the building after the last bell, there is a lot of cleanup work that comes with closing out the school year.

In the mad dash to end the school year, cleaning out desks, classrooms, and lockers can become a rushed and wasteful process. To combat this, schools across Massachusetts are being encouraged by The Green Team and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to host end-of-year “Recycling & Reuse Relays.” The goal of these relays is to sort through materials and supplies that can be reused or recycled to avoid them being thrown away hastily.

So how do you host a relay? It’s simple, really! If you work or volunteer within a school, connect with your school administrators and custodial staff about a date and space (preferably during the last week of classes) for when and where you can host this event.

A larger space is preferred, such as a gymnasium or auditorium if you anticipate sorting through a high volume of material. But even a smaller classroom can suffice, especially if you are part of a smaller-sized school. If you have access to multiple spaces, you could even designate one room for collection and one for sorting.

Once a date and space have been determined, begin advertising the event to school members, including teachers, students, staff members, and parents of students. If you need help creating a flyer or digital invitation, Canva is a great—and free—tool. Make sure your event flyer lists the date, time, location, and purpose of the relay. List example items that will be accepted, such as notebooks, markers, pencils, art supplies, backpacks, locker accessories, binders, etc.

Getting fellow school staff members on board is a crucial part of the event coordination, as you will need some extra hands on deck to help with the collection, sorting, and storage of the items. Some teachers may even be willing to dedicate time during their in-class cleaning to remind students of the event or help them identify and collect items to be brought in.

The Green Team created a fantastic flyer as a reference guide for school staff members to help explain the event and recruit others to help. If your school has a student club or staff committee dedicated to recycling efforts or other ‘green’ activities, they are a great place to start your recruitment efforts!

The supplies for the relay itself are fairly simple and likely things that you will have on hand at your school, such as bins or large boxes to collect items, extra bins and boxes to use for sorting, and paper, markers, and tape to help label collection and sorting areas.

Once items have been collected and sorted, the last step is to identify what can be recycled or repurposed. Some items may not be eligible for either (e.g., a pen without ink), and those ultimately may be thrown away. But the goal is to maximize the material that can have a second life. Items that can be recycled include lined loose-leaf or printer paper, cardboard, envelopes, paper folders, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans. Items that can be reused include half-used notebooks, binders, art supplies, scissors, pens, books, backpacks, and clothing.

So, what are you waiting for? With this post and The Green Team’s helpful flyer, you should have all you need to get a relay started at your school and end the school year on a high note protecting the environment!