Waste-Free Art in Year 5

Written by Anita Dai (Primary Art Teacher) in collaboration with Year 5

The Top 3 Reasons Year 5 went Waste Free in Art this Year

“It’s called UP-cycling… It’s when you give new purpose to old or broken things”
– Ms. Anita

Below are the top 3 reasons Ms. Anita and Year 5 were motivated to try this new and exciting approach to creating works of art.

  1. Global Goals

Did you know? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 4.5 pounds of waste is dumped by each person into landfills every day. It takes an estimated 1,000 years for this waste to decompose, in which time poisonous pollution is released into the soil and water.

Year 5 have focused on the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development in many of our curriculum areas this year. Art has been no exception and it was decided that in order to reduce the amount of waste produced by our school that we would make art projects out of recycled materials.

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The mantra during Environment Week at YCIS this year was “reduce, reuse, recycle” this basically means that we should try to reduce our waste and reuse existing things rather than throwing them away. In Art we already had a huge head-start on this goal.

Ms Anita scavenged bottles, cardboard, broken dodge balls, basketball skins and even messed-up wifi routers. Rescuing all of these items from ending up in the thousands of tons of landfill produced by people and businesses each year and instead  having the Y5 students turn them into original, awesome masterpieces, each with their own unique element. 

  1. To get creative and have FUN!

The third and most important reason Year 5 decided to take this interesting approach to Art is very obvious. It posed a challenge, encouraging us to put our thinking caps on and to get creative with the wide variety of pre-loved materials that Ms. Anita dug out of every corner, at school and home.

Some members of our class had these things to say about specific projects and why they stood out as being their particular favorite.

“My favorite project was drawing lions with soft pastels on recycled black paper. They came out very cool because we used yellows and oranges which really popped out of the black background.”

“Using recycled materials to make endangered animals was my favorite project this year. We selected our materials by “shopping” in Ms. Anita’s recycle boxes, she had the materials sorted into categories. It was really fun!”

“The coolest thing we did in art this year was making our own recycled carry bag to put our art in. It gave us a taste of designing things and having an original piece that would never be the same as anybody else’s.”

“I liked making the deep sea creatures. We reused paper and recycled foam scraps, we painted using eco-friendly glow in the dark paint. The animals turned out great and looked awesome in the glow in the dark tunnel at the art show.”

Now that you have read all about our fabulous year of Art in Year 5, we hope that you are inspired to try some upcycling of your own. Instead of throwing those jars and take-out containers away, why not give them a wash and see what kind of art you can create. If you are looking for ideas, maybe check out a couple of these websites for a little inspiration.


Happy up-cycling!! From your friends in 5A.

Bonus Feature: How the RP Art Department took their own advice to heart or “The Many Lives of the Sherwood Forest”

Why throw away art when it can be re-used and re-purposed, re-done and re-shaped again and again and again?

That’s exactly what the RP Art department did with the Sherwood Forest backdrop, originally painted for the Y5 and Y6 Spring Musical, Robin and Sherwood Hoodies.

The YCIS community may have experienced Déjà vu from seeing this familiar backdrop over and over again, from events such as the Spring Brunch to Environment Week. It wasn’t just because Ms. Anita and Ms. Amy were trying to save themselves the trouble of making new decorations, although it certainly was convenient. In fact, the idea of re-shaping an existing piece of work to fit a new purpose is a creative challenge that they relish. Efficiency and taking good care of the environment were just some of the other positive benefits of re-using the backdrop. Check out these photos and see if you recognize the original backdrop.

Sherwood Forest

Background for the prizes given out during Environment Week

Decoration outside Parent Room to showcase donations to Heart to Heart

Eco Booth at GCD                                                                Italian Booth at GCD

Background for Ms. Federica’s Recycled Art ASA project    Door decorations for Art Room