Recycle Upcycle School Workshops

RIG Arts have begun a new project, ‘Recycle Upcycle’! We’ve been working with 2 classes in Whinhill Primary School and St. Patrick’s School looking at the importance of recycling, what happens when we simply throw our waste into landfill, and experimenting with creative ways to reuse and upcycle our old rubbish.

We started by figuring out what we all knew already about recycling, such as what materials could be recycled, which items went in which bins, and what happened when waste went into landfill. RIG Art’s film ‘Greenscreen Inverclyde’ made for our previous recycling project was shown after the discussion, to elaborate and illustrate the knowledge the children already had.

Greenscreen Inverclyde from RIG Arts on Vimeo.

After watching the video the children each designed a poster to explain why recycling is important and to demonstrate their knowledge of what each bin is used for. Lots of the children were inspired by RIG Arts’ film, adding smiley faces and googly eyes to their own drawings.

In the next workshop, we continued to look at the problems associated with sending rubbish straight to landfill. Rebecca from RIG Arts brought a bag of rubbish with her, and asked some of the children to come and find items such as a glass bottle, a tin can, a leather shoe and a polystyrene cup.


The children then had to work in groups to order the items in terms of how long they would take to disintegrate in landfill, and we then rearranged the items on the carpet into their correct order. With some of the items, we were completely off the mark, but with others we were spot on! We came to the conclusion that waste made of natural resources such as the banana, the leather shoe and the cotton rag were quicker to decompose whereas items from man-made resources such as plastics took much longer.


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We then talked about the length of time each item took to decompose and we were all shocked by the how how many thousands of years some items took.

The banana took 3-4 weeks, while the leather shoe took 40-50 years, which was surprising to the children who thought it would take a lot longer. Plastic water bottles, used by nearly every child in the class, takes 450 years to disintegrate, while a glass bottle and polystyrene cup take so long that scientists haven’t yet worked out how long they take to decompose, estimating that they could stay in landfill forever!

After covering all these facts, we introduced the children to some creative ways of recycling waste materials to prevent them from taking up space in landfill and releasing harmful gases as they decompose.

The material we worked with was scrap paper, using old magazines to make paper beads.

paper beads

The children cut triangles from the scrap paper and rolled them around a pencil to form a bead. This proved trickier than expected, but with some practice the kids got the hang of it.

We also worked designed some ideas for upcycling on large items of furniture.

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Over the next few weeks we worked with Arlene and Amelia from Rags to Riches, an award winning upcycling project based at the Govanhill Baths in Glasgow. We made bottle top shakers and murals, puppets, flower pots and trays, bird feeders, jewellery and origami animals all from recycled materials.

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The children from St. Pat’s also wrote us some thank you letters also telling us what they enjoyed about the workshops and what they found a bit tricky. These will be so helpful for us to structure out future workshops.

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Whinhill also made us some thank you cards, putting their recycling and upcycling skills to use by assembling cut-outs from old cards.

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RIG Arts will be taking this project to a number of schools across different year groups in Inverclyde. Check back over the coming year for more pictures and upcycling ideas!



2 responses to “Recycle Upcycle School Workshops

  1. Pingback: Recycle Upcycle with Whinhill | Heid O' The Hill·

  2. Pingback: Making Paper Beads with St. Pat’s | Heid O' The Hill·

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