In addition to “reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic”, wouldn’t it be great to make recycling part of your child’s school’s agenda? Recycling saves money, protects the environment, conserves resources, reduces the need for new landfills, prevents global warming, and more. However, as they struggle with tight school budgets, administrators often resist suggestions to do things differently often because they fear it will cost the school money. The good news is recycling can actually save your school money if you follow these steps suggested by Jenn Savedge, author of The Green Teen (Kedzie Press, 2008).
1. Research It. In order to pull off a successful recycling program at your school, you’ll need to contact your school’s trash collector or a local recycling collection service (check your phone book) in order to find out what types of recycling collection programs are available in your area. If there is no collection service, find out where the nearest drop-off center is. Other questions to answer: What items can be recycled in your area? What is the charge for collection, and does the contractor pick up both waste and recyclables? What price will the contractor pay (yes pay the school!) for recyclables? How do items need to be separated? Are collection containers provided? What is pick-up schedule?
2. Plan It. Once research is complete, it’s time to put your plan together. Which items would be best to recycle? Paper is a good place to start because it’s easy to recycle and can make a huge difference to your school’s trash output. Other items that can and should be recycled include aluminum, glass, plastics, newspaper, steel and magazines. Your plan should include the number and location of recycling bins your school will use. To get things rolling, you might need to raise money to purchase collection bins, create signs and initiate the program.
3. Present It. Once your plan is in place, create a proposal you can present to school administrators. Proposal should include an introduction; an outline of what could be recycled; the intended collector, the payment to the school (e.g., 12 cents per ream of paper recycled, received on a weekly basis); the benefits of recycling (Specifically outline savings on trash collection costs, increased revenue, educational value, contribution to environment); the cost of program (recycling bins and weekly collection)–here’s where you might introduce the idea of a specific fundraiser to get recycling program going; and a conclusion. When making proposal to principal, don’t take no for an answer. There is no reason your school shouldn’t be recycling. If there’s resistance, highlight money savers. If there’s still resistance, polish your proposal and make presentation at the next school board meeting.
4. Do It. Once approved, you need to make sure everyone in the school participates (students, teachers, custodians, concessionaires, volunteers, and other staff.) Make it easy to participate by placing bins in convenient locations that are appropriately labeled.
5. Advertise It. Place signs throughout the school and near all bins and trash cans to remind everyone that your school recycles. Write an article for your school newspaper and send one to your local newspaper. Create recycling contests to get students excited about recycling. Prizes could include a pizza party for the class that recycles the most each month
It takes some effort to get it going, as most worthwhile things do. But once in place, a viable recycling program is unlikely to disappear, benefiting your school and the planet for years, no decades, to come.