A day in the life of …

Filed in Blog, Guest Posts by on April 15, 2010 18 Comments
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hannah gray, waste education officer from Gloucestershire County Council

hannah gray, waste education officer from Gloucestershire County Council

Hannah Gray is the Waste Education Officer for Gloucestershire County Council. I was fortunate enough to meet her one day in a library where she was running a recycling workshop for children during the holidays.

Hannah has always recycled and composted but has recently got into wormeries. As well as minding the council wormery (which visits schools) she’s treated herself to her very own and is very much looking forward to using the compost. She’s also recently got into Freegle and now made some progress towards de-cluttering her house. In her spare time Hannah is an avid rag – rugger and she enjoys hunting for ‘vintage’ finds in charity shops.

I work as the Waste Education Officer for Gloucestershire County Council. My job involves visiting schools (and other children’s groups) in the county and teaching children about reducing, reusing, recycling and composting through a variety of talks, workshops and assemblies. During my visits I promote the recycling service of the district councils. It’s a very busy, varied and exciting job and one that I enjoy immensely. There’s no such thing as a typical day; I could be doing a whole school assembly, leading a tour of one of the recycling centres, visiting a pre-school to talk about worms, teaching Brownies to reuse old shirt sleeves to create carrier bag monsters, delivering sessions in a local library, judging posters created by Beavers or in the office at Shire Hall booking schools in and developing new lesson plans.

Many of the children that I meet are already very aware of the environment and are eager to do their bit to help (whilst encouraging their families too) which is fantastic and very encouraging. Visiting landfill sites often has the biggest impact on people and it’s very often the adult helpers who come away having learnt the most. On a recent visit to landfill, one of the helpers was shocked to hear that the dustbin lorries don’t have their contents sorted before they are dumped in the landfill cells. With this type of misunderstanding it’s perhaps a little easier to understand why some adults don’t recycle as much as they could and the importance of education. Up until the point of visiting landfill I don’t think that many people haven’t given much thought to what happens to their waste after it leaves their home.

Recycle for Schools is our site for schools and children’s groups. It’s packed full of information about reducing, reusing, recycling and composting. Schools can sign up to our Challenge leaderboard and earn points and rewards for doing a whole manner of things on the 3Rs and composting theme. A total of 69 Gloucestershire schools have signed up so far, earning themselves composting balls, wormeries and bug houses for their efforts. The site also has a ‘Try this at Home’ area which should inspire you to get creative by reusing your waste. Included are a full set of instructions for making a sock monster – a perfect way to reuse your odd socks! I’m always on the lookout for more reuse ideas so if you do come across any please let me know (my contact details are on the website, above).

We’ve recently worked with The Roses Theatre on a production called Bin Talk which has toured schools in the Tewkesbury and Gloucester districts. The play used drama, music, humour and plenty of audience participation to communicate messages about the new recycling service in those areas. Feedback from the children and teachers has been incredibly positive.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (18)

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  1. Jane says:

    Taking Ownership of Public Space: I wonder if Hannah has managed to inspire the children to have a care for any public space eg their street or around their school – instead of just stepping over a crisp packet or can because they think it has nothing to do with them? The getting-up-off-the-grass-and- walking-away-just-leaving-all-the-picnic-rubbish-behind attitude is so sad.

    She sounds inspirational (nothing better than someone who is committed enough to follow through at home) and we need more people like her!

  2. Jane says:

    I’ve seen some really disgusting stuff put out in the recycling boxes to be collected by the guys whose job it is to sort at kerbside. Even when it is all whisked away in a lorry doesn’t mean that it isn’t sorted by hand elsewhere. A quick rinse in the washing-up water and the metal tops of tins pushed inside them wouldn’t hurt. A bit more mutual respect is sometimes needed.

  3. Julie Day says:

    She sure is an inspiration. If only all councils had someone like her to run things. I would like to meet her and contact her, even living in London.

  4. Sooz says:

    Amazing! I want her job!!!

  5. Jen CleanBin says:

    That sounds like a fabulous job!

  6. CAROLINE says:

    i wish our council was this enthusiastic!! they even have their own website! its brilliant. well done them!

  7. Anjie says:

    Wouldn’t it be a good idea if this was reproduced by the local paper, the more people who read articles like this the better. But what an interesting job she has.

  8. Jane says:

    Our local paper has small articles featuring people in the community each week, our council magazine often also does small features.

    Around the time of a big change to our waste collection the local paper had a reporter who did a series of articles on waste – she was photographed and wrote about her trips to the recycling site and landfill site etc finding out what went where and what happened to it. She also interviewed the council recycling officer and tried to find out answers to residents’ queries and some of these were printed each week. This was very informative.

  9. Jane says:

    Gloucestershire’s Recycle for Schools website is great. Schools in other areas would enjoy this. I’ll pass the info on to our Recycling Officer just in case she isn’t aware of it – maybe she’ll be enthused by it.

  10. Hannah Gray says:

    I completely agree with you, Jane. Litter is an issue everywhere and I try to encourage children to keep their environment clean as well as recycle and compost as much as they can. Our district councils in Gloucestershire are ultimately responsible for street cleaning and litter picking and support schools through schemes such as ‘The Big Tidy Up’.

    I always focus on the importance of sorting and cleaning waste before it gets recycled. One of my sessions involves very young children acting out a glass bottle going through the recycling process. Part of our role play includes rinsing out the bottle.

    Thanks for your comments about the Recycle for Gloucestershire Schools website. We’ve had lots of positive feedback from schools.

  11. Hannah Gray says:

    Thanks for your comment Anjie. With major campaigns such as Compost Awareness Week and Recycle Week, we try and maximise our publicity through press releases, advertising, leafleting and roadshow events. However throughout the year we are always spreading the ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ message. In schools for example we held a competition whereby pupils were encouraged to reuse items to create a dragonfly.

  12. Jane says:

    Do Gloucestershire schools have a food collection as well as compost bins/wormeries? I saw a report of London schoolchildren recently visiting an Anaerobic Digestion facility to find out what happens to their food waste.

  13. Jo Boardman says:

    I have a similar role to Hannah in North East Lincolnshire Council, and I agree the children are often more informed than the adults about the three R’s!
    Did you know that the secondary schools Food technology curriculum now teaches about the 6 R’s?
    They’re a little vague, including Repair. At least it’s in there though!
    And for those who said they want her job – go for it! But don’t take mine… I love it!

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Jo Boardman: Hi Jo, great to hear your perspective on this and so pleased you love your job too – it must be so rewarding 🙂

  15. Poppy says:

    @Hannah Gray:

    @Mrs Green: @Jane:

    This is probably worthy of a post of it’s own and I apologise if I’m stealing this from Hannah or spoiling anything Mrs G has lined up.

    Fantastic news from our local hell hole – otherwise known as The Tip! They have installed a viewing platform and local school children can go along to see for themselves, the impact of waste and just throwing things away!


    I hope this project is going to continue and the opportunity is going to be taken up by more local schools. My son is quite desperate to go along after I told him about it following a site visit I did last year. The tractor lights can actually be seen from his school, so he is a lot, lot nearer than the school in the press release.

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: Brilliant poppy – thank you for sharing this. And no, I didn’t have it lined up – you are officially my front line correspondent from the tip with breaking news 😀

  17. Poppy says:

    @Mrs Green: On the not so good front …. this has just been published.


    It’s basically on the same site. One part is household and the other is business and thisseemingly toxic waste! Run by seperate companies. I think they’ll have to have a re-think on the viewing platform 🙁

  18. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: OH dear; this is not good news. What a shame 🙁

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