Eco Fun Fairs

by Larraine Roulston

If your school engages in an annual Fun Fair fundraiser, parent volunteers and teachers will strive to make it a success. While the aroma of popcorn and baked goods fill the air, families come together to enjoy activities. As waste management and environmental decisions should be part of any school event, the organizing committee should plan for an environmental component and waste free strategy.

Planning Ahead

Fun fairs are high-energy and there is little enthusiasm for cleaning up when the day is done—understandably, the teachers and parents who volunteer during the event see clean-up as an exhausting chore and want to exit as quickly as possible at the end of the day. Therefore, an additional group of people should be recruited who are fresh for the task and who view garbage as a resource. Enlist as many as you can for the 3Rs crew. The group swings into action with enough people to start the day and a second team to arrive by late afternoon. This is an opportunity to call upon your school’s Eco Club. Ask them to create a 3Rs name for the volunteers and design cool armbands. When these students are not involved in an activity, they too will want to pitch in and help throughout the day.

All staff can ensure that promotion of the Fun Fair states that it will be environmentally sound and waste free. This will explain the lack of garbage cans and absence of helium balloons, over-packaged candy, straws, bottled water and Polystyrene cups.

Your school’s Green Teacher and a representative of the 3Rs crew should attend initial planning sessions to advise the committee how to reduce the environmental impact of each activity.

On the Day

The first crew arrives early to set up recycling and organics containers and to post recycling signs. During the day they check that the containers are used correctly, replacing them as necessary. The PA system could be used with clever announcements reminding everyone to recycle. The second crew appears later and remains for clean up. Cardboard signs are recycled. Spilled popcorn, floor sweepings with bits of string, etc., are composted. Game objects and decorations are boxed for next year. Unsold items are boxed up and delivered to charities. Bagged and tagged recyclables are set out properly for pick up. If there is not a school composter, the organics containers are taken home to backyard composters or for municipal green bins. Your public works department may even set up and collect recycling and compost containers. This keen 3Rs crew will be as visual as the musicians and wandering clowns.

Eco Friendly Fun Fair Activities

• If a classroom has a worm bin, the castings can be harvested, attractively bagged and sold to parents to sprinkle on household plants.
• Include a 3Rs crafts table. To glue objects, offer a paste of flour and water. Simple unwanted objects such as corks, bits of ribbon, packaging, rope, etc., need to be collected beforehand. Parents will be amazed at their children’s imagination seeing these unwanted objects turned into art.
• A toy exchange booth might be added.
• A Green Teacher will recommend non-toxic cosmetics for face painting.
• Thermoses, travel mugs, cloth shopping bags, beeswax candles, fair trade coffee and movie passes are great choices for raffle donations.
• For prizes, try to source locally made crafts or tree seedlings.
• Perhaps include a display on the students’ recycling efforts or how to pack a waste free lunch.
In planning for an eco friendly event, schools will be promoting environmental stewardship by example, which, as you know, is the only way to teach. As a bonus, less money will likely be spent on supplies!



Larraine Roulston

Larraine Roulston writes the Pee Wee at Castle Compost adventure series. Visit

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