Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this blog post may contain images of deceased people.

Our trophies have been crammed in a box for almost a decade and now that we’re moving house, we’re not keen on bringing the box with us just to take up space. The time has come to let them go, but first I took a couple of photos of the collection and removed the plaques. Initially, I was going to arrange the plaques in a framed display, or on a nice piece of wood with some photos added, but I’ve decided to store them in an envelope with our photo albums instead. That’s all we need to commemorate these achievements.

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There are a number of things that can be done with unwanted trophies but from an environmental perspective, finding a way to reuse them is best.

I’ve cleaned our trophies, packed them in a box of shredded paper (also from the house clean up) and sent them to Fair Game – after first checking if they could use them.

Fair Game recycles sports equipment and clothing received from individuals, schools and organisations and donates them to underserviced communities. Items are donated based on predetermined areas of need or at the specific request of the community itself.

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Through the provision of recycled sporting equipment, fitness and education, Fair Game aim to reduce the risk of lifestyle related disease, build social cohesion and improve mental well-being. Image used with permission from Fair Game.

I’m glad I discovered Fair Game because I tried calling my local trophy stores to see if they would reuse the unwanted trophies, but the one I heard back from wasn’t interested. You might have better luck. But also, my netball club has changed our uniform for the upcoming season, so instead of all the old uniforms being thrown out, I am trying to arrange for the old dresses to be sent to Fair Game. Sending mine on its own would not be useful.

Another idea, if your trophy is in good condition, is to call the organisation that gave you the award to see if they will reuse it. Older trophies might even have some historical value for the organisation and they might want to display it in their club rooms or hallways. I have a stack of athletics and swimming ribbons printed with my secondary school’s logo on them, so I have emailed the school to see if they will reuse them. If they didn’t have a logo on them, I would have asked the staff at my kids’ school if they could use them.

You could also try giving the trophies away through online secondhand market places like local Facebook Buy Swap Sell groups, or at op shops, kindergartens, and art groups. Some people like to creatively repurpose trophies for things like bookends, coat hangers, bottle tops, cupcake stands, or as novelty awards at fun events.

We had three wooden trophies that I didn’t think were in good enough condition to send to Fair Game, so I pulled them apart and added the bolts to our bolts jar and the wood to our firewood pile. I almost kept the gold plastic figurines to use as cake toppers because our kids are into the same sports. I think they would have looked great, but in the end, I wasn’t keen on keeping something for years that might only get used a couple of times, so I sent them to Fair Game as well.

Reuse trophy figurines as cake toppers.
Reuse trophy figurines as cake toppers.

If you are not having any luck getting your unwanted trophies reused, you should do your best to recycle the different materials that make up the trophies using council facilities. Check your council’s website for more information.

I’d also like to suggest that people talk to their sporting associations about not over doing the number of trophies given out, and giving something that is useful or easily reused or recycled. A great alternative to the figurine on a block of wood or marble is an engraved item that I can use like a glass vase or tray. Of course, these things still have the potential to clutter our homes if a lot of them are received, and different people have different preferences. Maybe people would just really like vouchers. If you’re bold enough, you could let official members know you would not like to receive any trophies if the occassion arose. I think it’s worth having the discussion if it means that much to you.

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