‘What does it mean to reduce?’ I enthusiastically asked the class of learners.

‘To cut down,’ one student chirped. 

I proceeded to speak about the importance of using less and being resourceful – the most important step in the waste hierarchy.

I was mid way through a presentation for students at the Harrington scheme. 

This month I spent my volunteering day teaching young adults with learning difficulties about recycling. I began with some shocking images of plastics in rivers. Students said, ‘that’s horrible.’ 

We then went on to look at what recycling is, what we can recycle and what happens with paper once it is collected. 

I brought in waste items and asked students to chose which bin they thought they should go in.

I explained my magic trick – ‘If you can turn an item upside down, put it over your head and nothing nasty falls out, it can go in the recycling bin!’

A couple of learners came up with some wonderful ideas of what we could do with our old cardboard boxes. One young man said we could plant a seed in it using our food compost. What a marvellous idea. The Harrington Scheme has beautiful gardens that learners help in.

The lesson lasted an hour. I used short, simple sentences and asked lots of questions to keep everyone engaged. Having a visual presentation that I pre-planned was really useful as it helped keep the lesson on track.  If ever questions or comments were made that were on a tangent, I would steer the conversation back to recycling by using stories or analogies.

At lunch I kicked the football around with learners and enjoyed sitting outside in the stunning walled garden that the Harrington Scheme maintains themselves. 

In the afternoon, there was an art lesson I helped with. We drew butterflies and learners decorated them with colourful tissue paper and glitter. These will be hung up in the local church. 

It was then time for a quick break before I gave another recycling lesson to 25- 30 learners and additional staff.

I really enjoyed my day and am looking forward to going back next month to see how the recycling is going!

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