Ode to a cardboard box…

Do you know what’s relatively easy to fundraise for? Conserving and moving a huge elephant skeleton.

Do you know what’s relatively impossible to fundraise for? The packing materials needed to move the afore-mentioned huge elephant skeleton. YAWN.

Boring as boxes, crates, tissue paper, bubble wrap and tape may be, they are like oxygen or coffee – absolutely essential. In general these sorts of items are quite cheap, but not in the quantities we need them for moving the Cole – initial estimates were around the £20,000 mark. It was calculated that we need over 2.6 kilometres of bubble wrap! Fundraising is about creating a buzz, getting people to care about your cause so they decide to donate – how am I supposed to create a buzz about sheets of foam or various sizes of cardboard box?

One of the ways we’re tackling this problem is making our needs known to the wider university community, particularly those in logistical roles that come across packing materials every single day. A combination of affection for the Cole and an increasing focus on sustainability/waste reduction has led to a steady stream of donations – including things that staff have brought in from home – from all departments across the University.

A storeroom has been given over specifically to the Cole for storing packing materials. This room has been divided up for the different types of material we need, including Plastazote foam, plywood (for making custom crates), soft materials (we love packing peanuts) and plastic Euro crates. As donations come in or are collected, they are squirrelled away, and after only a few weeks we already have enough materials to begin packing without spending a penny. An actual penny, not….never mind.

Ongoing arrangements to save up and deliver materials to us have been made with several departments, and the Sustainability department have been extremely helpful. Rather than resigning ourselves to spending thousands of pounds on new cardboard and a whole heap of new plastic in various forms, the carbon and plastic pollution impact of the Cole has been greatly lessened by the sending of a simple email request for help.

Our specimens are so many wonderful different shapes and sizes, all the way down to the minuscule, that small amounts of foam or paper might end up being just the ticket.

Let this blog be testament to the power of email, university community spirit, the place the Cole occupies in people’s hearts, and the lowly but holy Cardboard Box.

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