Enthusiastic Ripon primary school pupils are embracing a community-wide pen recycling scheme in a bid to help reduce waste and protect wildlife.
Having gathered a remarkable 20kg of old pens in just three months – equivalent to the weight of an average six-year-old or 20 bags of sugar - the students are now hoping they can inspire more schools to join them.
Youngsters from three primary schools in the city signed up to the Ripon Grammar School students’ campaign in the autumn, to help turn old markers and highlighters into useful products such as folders, pencil cases, shopping bags and notepads, rather than sending them to landfill.
Eight-year-old Alex Bainbridge, from Moorside Junior and Infant School, said everyone was joining in and putting their old pens in recycling pots in the classroom: “It’s important to recycle pens because plastic can kill animals.”
St Wilfrid’s Catholic Primary School pupil William Parkes, seven, agreed: “I like the pen recycling because it is helping us to protect our environment.”
“If we recycle the pens, the materials can be reused to make new things,” added six-year-old classmate Joseph Mukono.
One of the RGS school officers leading the campaign, sixth former Poppy Robinson, highlighted how beneficial the project has been for the whole community: “It’s been great working with local primary schools and getting to know them all better.”
RGS science technician Dr Karen Piggott, who is helping co-ordinate the scheme, which has also been taken up by Holy Trinity CE Junior School, praised the pupils’ enthusiasm: “I hadn’t expected we’d get so many pens, it really is fantastic.
“We are now appealing for more primary schools to get involved so that, by the time children get to secondary school, this sort of recycling will be second nature.”
Moorside eco-coordinator Bridget Taylor-Connor said she was delighted at how the children had embraced the project.
She said: “It’s great to be part of a wider recycling initiative, the children, who also recycle paper in every classroom, are very enthusiastic to help save the world by recycling.”
As a Community Champion of the scheme, run by BIC pens and the recycling company Terracycle, RGS is the central collection point for the area and will earn one penny for every item handed in.
Money raised will be used for further eco-friendly projects at the school, which has already won an Eco Schools Silver Award for its commitment to improving the environment.
Pens can also be donated to Stuff 4 Offices stationery store in Ripon.