IMG 8517

The Making a Difference group are cleaning up!

Making a Difference is a session that was introduced Learning Disabilities Day Services in Wokingham to make a positive impact within our local community. The session was inspired by news regarding our plastic waste effecting marine life and being the cause of much unnecessary suffering and even death across the world. Our aim is to make positive changes within our Day Services and inspire others to do the same.

Aims we are working towards include:

  • To continue to gain knowledge about the different ways we can recycle.
  • To gain confidence in speaking up about recycling to inspire & educate others.
  • To make a difference to our community and Day service.
  • To recycle plastics using a micro-enterprise approach.
  • To give any profits to charity.

Last year, the members of the group really enjoyed our trip to Portsmouth GHS Recycling Centre where we managed to recycle 11kg of plastic tops from milk and pop bottles used at our day services, and collected from Head Office.

One of our other projects has been making dog waste bag dispensers out of used plastic bottles, which are filled with the appropriate bags with a note attached to encourage residents to keep the area clean and tidy. Our clients showed great enthusiasm and enjoyed making the dog waste bag dispensers and distributing them around Woosehill. We attached them to lamp posts in areas we had heard were problematic and received some fabulous feedback from local residents on two Facebook sites, one a local site, and another on Wokingham Gossip Girls.

The group also got recognised and praised for a litter pick that we did. We were all very proud of ourselves.

As well, we have also signed up to Terracycle. Terracycle is a national recycling organisation that recycles many items that would usually end up in landfill. We boxed up 1403 empty crisp packets that we have rescued from our bins at the centre and posted them to Terracycle. The group are now going to share our efforts with other Optalis services to encourage them to do the same. We are also in liaison with Jennie, the manager of the Acorn centre to see if we could sign up to recycle more than just crisp packets with Terracycle and to be a recycling drop off for our local community. If you would like to collect crisp packets in your service and drop off to the Acorn Centre, we would be happy to send them to Terracycle. We also welcome washed green or red milk bottle tops.

The group continues to want to make a difference and have a few ideas on projects to work on. The members of the group really like the idea of making Birdfeeders from plastic bottles, so hopefully, in the future, we can make some and if good enough, possibly sell.

Our current project is making Eco bricks from a used 2L plastic bottle. The bottles are filled with clean plastic wrappers that cannot be recycled and would normally go in the bin. The bottles are sent for processing and are compacted down into bricks. Once complete, the Eco bricks become very solid and can be used to make shelter, housing and furniture.

We have asked those that send their lunches in plastic bags to convert to a hard plastic box which not only protects lunches from being squashed in bags, can be used again and again.

We work hard trying to embed across the service and feed into our other sessions. Our long term aim is to get all services on board and be green as an organisation.

One of the first things the service introduced was stopping the use of plastic straws and disposable cups, and reusing non-confidential paper for in house documents, printing on the other side. This could be one of the small steps we take as an organisation.

Just a few simple changes really can make a difference and reduces general rubbish. The group feel good knowing that the work they do is helping others, and contributing towards protecting our environment.

Example of a bottle filled with plastic wrappers. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it is an activity suitable for all abilities

Previous article

Optalis care 'spread Christmas cheer' to beat loneliness

Optalis in Wokingham hosted a range of festive activities to beat isolation