Saturday, April 21, 2012

What does your school do with its recyclables?

Lessons From the Middle: Recycling in the classroom
Krystal Mills ~ PEI, Canada
Hi everyone!

I'm so happy to be an author here on Global Teacher Connect! I'm a Grade 7 teacher and I live on Prince Edward Island, on the eastern coast on Canada. I have been teaching for 5 years now, and I currently teach Math (my personal favorite) Language Arts, Social Studies and Health.

I'd like to tell you about a year-long project that my Grade 7 Social Studies class has been working on this year. My school has been working on "PBL" or Projects Based Learning, for the last couple of years. The project that my students have been working on this year in Social Studies, has to do with "changing the world" even if it's in some small way.

Lessons From the Middle: Recycling in the classroomTo make a REALLY long story short, the class decided to begin to collect and redeem the recyclables (bottles, juice boxes, cans) for the entire school and give the money to reputable charities. I must be honest. They didn't come up with this all on their own. I saw that the recyclables in our school were not going to good use and I did "help" them to see that this would be a great task for us to take on.

I teach in a K-7 school and this project has been successful, although, a lot of work! Students must collect the recyclables from every classroom (we eat lunch in our classrooms) every 2-3 days, change the garbage bags, rinse, sort, count and label the recyclables and put them out in the locked garbage bin that another group of students  helped to make for our project. The recyclables get picked up and the money dropped off to us every couple of weeks.

It's been a successful project and definitely worthwhile. We will have made almost $1000 by the end of the school year, I predict. Our school has just over 350 students and we didn't start until the end of October. This is money that would literally, have gone in the garbage. My students are also collecting the tabs from the cans as they recycle. There is a program that they are looking into that takes these tabs and recycles them for use in wheelchairs.

Lessons From the Middle: Recycling in the classroom
Classes in the school have been applying for "grants" from my 7B class, for their own projects. My class created proposal forms and get the final say in approving another class for a grant or not, from our recycling funds. Money has gone to snow pants for a student, toys for children at Christmas, and a gift to a teacher's the new born baby who had to have open heart surgery this month. I think the funds that we have left, may go to a local family whose house was recently destroyed by a fire.

Lessons From the Middle: Recycling in the classroomAgain, this project has been a learning experience for us all. I have thought many times, though, "What do other schools do with their recyclables?" Throwing cans and juice boxes in the garbage is like throwing out a nickel each time. Sending them to the recycling plant is the other option - but still a waste of potential money for the school, students and community.

What does your school do with their recyclables? How are they managed? What is done with the money if they are redeemed?

Again, I'm very excited to be here at Global Teacher Connect and I hope a few of you comment to let me know how things work in your school.

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  1. What an awesome program! We don't have any recycling program at my school at all. When I taught in the US, we had big bins in parking lot, but I was always disappointed in how little ended up in those bins. I love that you guys work as a community.

    1. Krystal MillsApr 22, 2012 04:16 PM

      Thanks Heidi! It's been going well. We actually had students build us a wooden bin with a lock to hold the recyclables, since we couldn't afford to rent one. It's been a community effort for sure!

  • Good evening....sounds like all stakeholders have benefited from this project. At my school, the Science Department is responsible for collecting our recycling. Students from science classes come around each Friday. We also have a Green Club that was started by students last year. I am not sure what they are doing currently. Most of our correspondence at school is through email and Google Docs from our Principal. Additionally, one Science teacher is taking on a project to make the school go Greener. She is in her YOP currently. In my own classroom, we are attempting to go paperless with homework assignments. They are posting to the blog as much as they can.

    1. Krystal MillsApr 22, 2012 04:18 PM

      Paperless homework! Wouldn't that be great! It sounds like your school has its act together for sure Ms. Swift. Good for you!