New Hall School, founded in 1642, has always been guided by its Catholic ethos. Nowadays, this includes a concern for the environment and we are working to improve our use of resources, in particular through recycling.
While there are much larger recycling programmes on site, perhaps the most important initiative is the one that involves our students. Some years ago, we set up a small House competition. Students were encouraged to bring in used batteries, ink cartridges and mobile phones for recycling. We made a small cardboard collection box, and after a month or so it was emptied and the material taken to the collection point at the local supermarket.
That system didn’t last! Suddenly the box was full to overflowing almost all the time, and it was impossible to keep dropping off batteries at the supermarket. We needed to upgrade, and the BatteryBack scheme allowed us to do so. In the first year of the competition, 2009-2010, we collected about 50kg of batteries, and set up the system of collection that is now undertaken by WasteCare. Each year, the competition has grown. By 2013-14 we recycled 120kg. This year, after just over a term, we were busily filling our second 60kg container and are definitely on track to exceed last year’s total!
Why is this battery recycling so popular? There are all sorts of reasons. Sarah Garside, Head of Vertical Houses, attributes it to “the competitive element, which helps to make students more enthusiastic and gives them a way to contribute to the success of their house, as well as helping to protect their environment.”
The Estates staff have become enthusiastic users of the scheme, as they can easily dispose of the batteries used on site. Vitally, there are lots of people who are serious about recycling and who find a school-based system convenient for themselves and their families. Not only can they feel that they are doing their duty for the environment, but they can also join in the excitement of receiving updates about how their houses are doing. There is always a sense of community in recycling, but with this house competition that nebulous sense is made more concrete.
As Sarah Garside says, “The way the competition has grown and the fact that New Hall is now recycling so many batteries which might previously have been thrown away, shows that the actions of just one community can make a difference and help to tackle big problems which sometimes seem difficult to solve.” We could not maintain this programme without the support offered by WasteCare. We are consistently impressed by how easy it is to request and organise collections, and by the friendly helpfulness of the staff members who make the collections. Thank you, WasteCare, for helping us to educate students in good habits!