Recycling freebies

Most of us know of The Green Shed as a great place to drop off unwanted goods when our cupboards get too full, but did you know that for schools, the Shed offers free items for students to create with, upcycle or explore?

bikeWith CaptionSMThe Green Shed, at both Mitchell and Symonston resource management centres, is an ACT Government re-use and recycling facility where second hand items can be dropped off to be purchased and used by others. For schools and teachers The Green Shed offers a huge range of recycled materials for school and classroom projects such as craft materials and outdoor supplies. There are also mechanical and electrical items which can be de-constructed by students to find out how things work.

Turner Primary School’s art teacher sourced beads and jewellery from The Green Shed for students to make spectacular art works.

Angela Burroughs, teacher at Ainslie Primary, sourced bike parts and bikes in need of repair from The Green Shed to keep a group of students engaged. With the help of a community member, she founded a once a week group which repaired bikes from spare parts, rehabilitated old ones, and even created some amazingly modified transport. The group, dubbed “bicycle therapy” by the students involved, was a vehicle for teaching literacy to students who had previously been disengaged.

“It was the highlight of their week,” Angela said. But the group needed a supply of bike parts. “We went on an excursion to The Green Shed to get more parts and bikes.” Apart from repairing student bikes, eventually some of the repaired bike were also sold at the school fete.

At other schools, a variety of interesting objects obtained from The Green Shed have been used for ‘loose-parts play’ for juniors, where children engage with everyday materials that can be moved, carried, combined, repurposed and redesigned, taken apart and put together in endless ways.

Of course, in using items from The Green Shed, schools are not only inspiring creativity, but also reducing waste going to landfill.

P&Cs may also find The Green Shed a source of useful supplies such as plant pots for the annual plant store. Items from the Green Shed could also be used to spruce up your canteen area, such as using old doors as screens or dividers. More about using recycled materials in a canteen facelift can be found at

Low-cost items can be obtained for no charge by schools and teachers – simply take along some form of school identification (such as a letter on letterhead). The Green Shed has no ability to reserve or collect items, however, so what you see is what you get and several trips may be necessary to secure your wished-for repurpose-able treasure.

A new project at the Green Shed —Project Green Seed – is looking to help teachers further by providing practical support with waste management units within the syllabus. They now have a dedicated, qualified educator-artist available for either consultation or to visit classrooms and run workshops with children using items collected at The Shed.

 This article appeared in ParentACTion, Term 1, 2017.