Recycling Supports Green Education

Last Updated:
Fri, 2014-08-01 09:57
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If you read What Not to Recycle on Halloween, you know that Terracycle is a mail-in recycling program for items that are difficult to recycle through standard processes. Everblue investigated how the program works and decided to try it out. Here’s a recap of how things went – our own case study, if you will!

Finding a Partner

Because Terracycle does not currently have any openings for new accounts in the Candy Brigade, Everblue utilized Terracycle’s Facebook page to connect with an organization that already has an established account and collection site. A teacher from Spencer-Van Etten (SVE) Middle School in rural New York responded. The students at this school participate in several Terracycle programs to enhance recycling efforts and earn funds that can be used to support the school’s green education programs. Green education is perfectly aligned with Everblue’s goals of preparing the workforce to compete in a green economy, and we were excited to help the school while diverting waste from landfills.

Participation Requires Little Effort

Everblue’s office staff placed a recycled paper grocery bag in the kitchen near the other recycling bins to collect the wrappers. When the bag was nearly full, we contacted the teacher from SVE Middle School, Brenda Anderson, who emailed us a pre-paid shipping label. We packed the box, affixed the label, and dropped it off for UPS pickup. The process was simple…and free.

Supporting Green Education

We followed up with Ms. Anderson to find out more about how the school is benefiting from the Terracycle program. She explained that they do community outreach through the local schools to solicit cooperation in the collection of recyclables. The school holds collection contests several times a year to raise awareness and promote the program.

The best part of the program seems to be that the kids get involved and manage the process. Kids collect in their homerooms and facilitate sorting. Several students known as “Wasteline Ambassadors” monitor the lunch line for proper waste disposal, including efforts to compost food scraps. “We have a class that meets every other day called the Greenhouse Program (GHP), explained Anderson. “It is for hands-on learners and kids that need a different approach to reading and writing. Originally designed as a horticultural class, it focuses on Green Education and Terracycle.” The GHP is self-funded through TerraCycle, grants, and other fundraising and is considered to be the head of the green movement at SVE. The GHP also does community service, such as growing potted flowers for local senior housing or planting gardens at school.

Accomplishments

When asked about the green achievement they are most proud of, Anderson replied, “I am REALLY proud that our district saved 110,000 pounds of food, recycling, and paper waste from the landfill in a year.” Anderson also noted that these statistics were tracked and compiled by students!

To date, SVE Middle School has earned a little over $4300 from participation in various Terracycle programs. The funds are used to supplement green education including community service projects, purchase of bins, signage, contest prizes, and other materials to support educational projects. The program has empowered “green leaders” at the school. “I tell people if they want to do something green, I have money to support it,” Anderson said.

Serving the Greater Good

Grassroots efforts and programs, such as Terracyle, are proving to be innovative, cost-effective ways to raise awareness, inspire action, and protect the planet.

By Amy Malloy

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