Doing D&T sustainably

Composting food waste, re-using donated materials and upcycling old objects are just some of the ways the Design & Technology department at The Carlton Academy is striving for sustainability.

The trailblazing department recently featured in the Design and Technology Association (DATA) magazine, shining a spotlight on the many ways schools can reuse, reduce and recycle towards becoming a 'greener' subject.

"Is our material-eating subject one that can continue with budgets dropping and material costs rising?," muses Dale Mears, Trust Director of D&T and Head of Design at The Carlton Academy, as he lists the many ways his school is working to increase sustainability.

Examples include:

  • Textiles: projects are manufactured from local companies’ offcuts and samples
  • Textiles:  encouraging students to bring in old clothes and materials
  • Food & textiles: sourcing offcuts from blinds to make food bags to donate to the local food bank
  • Food: composting food waste into big compost bins outside
  • Food: creating and using a 'grow our own' space for fruit and vegetables
  • DT: reusing materials donated from students’ parents and local firms
  • DT: using donated timber for any test pieces and even donated or reprocessed acrylic for our plastics curriculum offer
  • DT: using links with Nottingham Trent University to drop off some old acrylic and HIPS scraps to be shredded and replated back into usable sheets
  • Workshop infrastructure: ensuring there is a full suite of recycling bins in the design studio for plastics, glass, paper and mixed recycling
  • Extra-curricular: running an active upcycling club
Max McMurdo is a designer, author and TV presenter, you may recognise his creations from shows such as Dragons' Den, Amazing Spaces, Fill Your House For Free and Find it, Fix it, Flog it.

Mr Mears says: "Very few bought materials come into play. We try and instil an emphasis on being resourceful and not wasteful," adding, "There is no easy solution and quick win to becoming more sustainable as a department, but small steps go a long way!"

Upcycling Competition 

This year, for the first time, students at The Carlton Academy were inspired to get creative, sustainably, as part of the Sustainability Upcycling Competition.

The brief was simple: upcycle something at home, no matter how big or small

Guest judge was former Dragon's Den star and TV personality Max McMurdo, who fed-back on the ingenious designs from upcycled piano stools and cupboards to an MP3 speaker cube made out of an old kitchen worktop and old electrical components.

Mr Mears says: "We've stayed in touch with Max and will be running this competition across Redhill Academy Trust this academic year – I can't wait to see the outcomes from 10 schools!"