In a project championed by the P&C committee, the Queensland school community banded together to re-fashion trash into a sustainable Christmas wonderland. 

“We have our recycled plastic bottle Christmas tree, that is our major piece…” teacher Wendy Baynton tells Australian Teacher Magazine.
“We also have a ‘tyre tree’ with all different sized tyres going up … that has been decorated with plastic bottles which have been split and spray-painted so they look like unfolded flowers and stars,” she adds.

Other exotic creations on show included a wreath fashioned from used plastic bags, a towering ‘hub cap’ Christmas tree and huge cable reels emblazoned with a message “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle”.

Noting the school’s “very multi-cultural” student cohort (about 60 per cent of children have Filipino heritage) Baynton says the display was infused with much cultural significance as well. 

“[This] is what they have grown up doing in the Philippines … they don’t have the money to buy new Christmas decorations and trees and all of that and so they create their Christmas decorations with recycled goods.”

 The educator adds that the initiative not only linked students back to their homeland, but it gave non-Filipino children a charming insight into their peers’ culture.  

The construction phase might have been intense, but Baynton says the positive relationships to come out of the whole-school venture have been priceless.

“The majority of the structural-type stuff has been led by the Filipino community, they have been here in our little activity hall for at least the past month, everyday coming in and creating, so it has strengthened that relationship with the school as well, because we are seeing all the parents being here and being involved. 

“ ...they have come out and said ‘let’s do this’, so it’s been fantastic.” 

This Christmas, Baynton promises we can expect an even bigger and brighter spectacle to take over the front lawn.

“Teachers are traditionally fairly creative people, so now we have seen what can happen our ideas will just increase.”