An environmental locker clean-out is a great end of the school year club activity. It is easy to do, requires little preparation, is highly visible, a great image builder for your club, and it is FUN!
A locker clean-out utilizes all of the "R's" that an environmental club should be concerned about. The process will reduce, recycle, and reuse material that would otherwise go to the landfill.
What to do in Advance:
1) Identify a sponsoring club or organization. An environmental club is a natural connection, but other clubs may be interested in being involved, too. Make sure your students are committed to the project. If you have a relatively small organization, they may have to stay after school to finish up and/or clean up. It's best to pick the day that the students have to have their lockers emptied. We know how students will wait until the last minute!
2) Discuss the process/system with the administration.
a) You will need to select locations to collect the material and a site to sort and manage the material collected. The initial collection points should be within visual contact of all lockers but out of the main flow of foot traffic. You will need at least four collection bins available in no fewer than two locations depending on your school size. You will need a bin each for trash, white paper, paper "recoverables" (notebooks, notepaper, composition books) and one for other "recoverables" (clothing, art supplies, library books.) The Librarian would be happy to have the books back.
The site where you will sort the recovered material should be fairly large and out of the main traffic flow. Some schools have done this part of the activity adjacent to the white paper recycle bin. Wherever you decide, you will want to have some tables on which to sort the material. Otherwise, plan to have a sore back before you are finished.
b) Students (environmental club members and other supporters) must be able to go to the area on their "free time" (study hall, etc.). They will also need some supervision. You know your students better than we, you will know how much supervision they require.
c) Notify the public relations person for the school district about this event. P. R. people love this type of activity. You may, however, have to be your own P. R. person, but the time spent and contacts made are well worth it.
3) Discuss the system with the custodial staff. Custodians are generally supportive of the students and will be willing to help in the reduction of waste. They will be able to assist in having the school's white paper bin emptied immediately before the event. You are going to get a LOT of white paper!
4) If your group has a corporate partner or monies available, order "pizzas and drinks" for all "volunteers". Invite the custodians and maintenance staff to enjoy the refreshments as a thank you for helping recycle throughout the year.
5) In a faculty newsletter or faculty bulletin, explain the project so that the staff understands why the students are leaving study hall and what they are doing. They will also be able to spread the word to their students. Some staff members may allow some to be assigned to the project and make up work missed for the day.
6) You need a storage area for all the items collected to be recycled or saved for later use. Your recycled "finds" will not magically disappear.
7) If you don't have a storage area, you may want to "donate" the materials to an inner-city school or summer program.