As an Archaeologist, it is always a puzzle what to do with old and broken PPE. Previously I had never batted an eyelid at handing back old PPE and walking away with brand new hi-vis, and it had never occurred to me how much redundant PPE contributes to our landfills.

Encouragingly a lot of the old PPE from Wessex Archaeology’s Sheffield office is donated to Scrapdragon, a Scrapstore and Creative Reuse Centre linked to Pitsmoor Adventure Playground, where our old coats are used to keep staff and volunteers warm and provide dressing up for children.

Unfortunately not all PPE can be reused and it was only recently, when my coat’s zip broke from too much mud, that I sat and thought about fabric waste. This coat could be binned just because it would not fasten, the rest of the coat was near perfect, only a few snags from wear and tear! 

Throwing the coat away just didn’t sit well on my conscience, especially when I see how rubbish effects the ecosystem on a daily basis. I wanted to find a way to reduce my PPE waste and hopefully save the planet one bit of hi-vis at a time!

Fast forward to the weekend and that coat, once destined for the skip, is now a tool bag!

A new lease of life for retired PPE

Upcycling is one of the many ways we can reduce our environmental impact, not everything can be reused or recycled so why not create something new? The upcycled PPE tool bag is practical, costs nothing and helps save the planet – why not try it yourself?

Other ways to use old/broken PPE:

  • Hi-Vis vests can be upcycled to create tote bags, pet hi-vis, bunting and much more!
  • Old boots and wellies can be painted to create unique/ funky planters, brolly holders for the office and bird houses! 
  • Hi-Vis trousers can be cut up to create pencil cases, bags, aprons – really the possibilities are endless!

By Jasmine Porter, Fieldwork Archaeologist