– Getting creative instead of trashing items –
Single-use packaging is intended to be used only once before being thrown away or recycled. Included in this kind of trash would be food packaging, bottles for laundry detergent and other household goods, straws and boxes for tea bags, etc From a global perspective, over 90% of trash is estimated to come from single-use materials. The good news in some countries is that over 50% of packaging is recycled.
The upside-down pyramid for waste shows the more preferred ways to deal with it.
When it comes to waste, the best option is preventing the waste from coming into our homes or office buildings, the 2nd best option is to reuse items somehow, and then comes recycling. Increasing awareness in your team is important – of being more responsible with their purchasing choices and choices regarding trash that passes through their homes or at the office. This workshop can improve awareness of how to reuse items instead of discarding them.
Participating in this workshop will show participants how to look at packaging trash from the perspective of reusing it, and creating a new purpose for single-use packaging. You can open the workshop by reflecting on trash and recycling in your city/location and how they could all help to improve those statistics by being more mindful of the items they bring into their homes (avoiding single-use packaging as much as possible) and also to not be so fast to throw away items that had only been used once at the office.
If you are passionate about having a positive impact on the sustainability habits and thinking of others in your organization, in your family, or among friends, why not get 4-6 people to join you in being creative with packaging that would have otherwise been discarded.
Items you can use in the workshop:
Most households would be easily able to collect some items like small carton boxes and items, printed pages that are no longer needed like advertising leaflets thrown in through mailbox slots, and paper-based packaging used for supporting fruits purchased in supermarkets. In the office, there could be boxes that contained pens and pencils or paperclips.
Two ideas to consider for the activity:
Paper Mache (papier-mâché)
You can make the paste using flour and water (see https://kinderart.com/kitchen/papier-mache-recipes/) tear the collected sheets of paper into strips about 1 inch wide and dip them thoroughly into the paste mixture. Strip off the excess mixture from each strip before applying it. It works well if you pull the strip of paper through to the other side between two fingers. Build up the desired new object by applying only one layer at a time and waiting for that to dry before going to a new layer. Dried objects can be sanded to improve the smoothness of the finished project before you apply an environmentally friendly paint design on top. Ideas of items that might be useful include containers for jewelry, organizing loose containers into a neatly contained area, or creating a container for paperclips and other office items that could be cluttering up desk drawers.
Make sure the used stirring sticks are free of coffee remains that could interfere with the gluing process. Design ideas could include coasters for cups, glasses, or mugs at the office or at home. You could also build containers for pens or other office supplies. Remember to wait until the glue had dried before putting items on your built items to avoid breakage! And again you might use environmentally friendly paints to finish your coffee stirrer design items.
To limit the space and supplies needed for your workshop team activity, it may be wise to pick one type of project to work on vs trying to cover several types of projects in one space.
Welcome, and introductions – if not all participants know each other, allow time for everyone to introduce themselves.
Overview – talk about the reason for the workshop and focus participant attention on sustainability and how sustainability principles relate to the way we think about and how we deal with the packaging associated with purchases. Give them some trash generation and recycling statistics for your local area to help them understand the scale of the issues faced environmentally with how things are going in your area. Introduce the workshop as a way to become more aware and get creative with packaging waste that comes from homes and offices. Creative activities in groups are also great ways to improve the mental health of individuals and feelings of belonging in a team or group.
Activity – introduce the chosen activity and explain the materials available to participants. Make sure people know how much time you have planned for the activity and if there will be follow-up opportunities to complete projects or whether they could take any half-finished projects home to finish them there. Walk around while participants work on their projects and support them with advice where needed. Always make sure that safety is a priority and be sure to explain any dangers such as using cutting devices or opening and closing drawers and cupboard doors in the workshop area.
Closing – when the workshop time is at the end. Thank everyone for participating and being willing to learn new ways of looking at single-use packaging as small steps to help improve the generation of trash in your area. Remind participants of how they could finish up their projects and encourage them to share pictures of completed items with the team/group.
The first step to improving any situation is awareness. This kind of team or group activity is a great way to increase awareness of the issues at hand with local trash generation and how each person can make a difference in small ways. Using creative endeavors to address this issue is also enjoyable and can be a great way to improve feelings of mental well-being, which is something we all can use in today’s world.