Recycling in Schools

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.

By Terri Hall-Jackson, contributing writer, Care 2


W. C
W. C2 months ago


William C
William C2 months ago

Thank you.

Trey Trott
Trey Trott6 years ago

ok definitely love this article I started my recycling system for my school district which is a whopping total of 160 schools. I also am writing a persuasive paper on this and thes notes and steps are amazing!!!!

Prometeus O.
Past Member 7 years ago

i just love i have a greener job. I work at a shredding company fort lauderdale based, and i just love to know some trees will live longer cos of me. The same idea should be implemented into our children brains. Something will live if we help !

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W8 years ago

thank you

Susan Savion
Susan Savion9 years ago

Our Go Green Team weighs the recyclables every week. We also have a battery collection in operation. And have you heard of greenlaces and Green Olympians? Check it out!
Sue in syracuse

Nicole H.
Nicole H9 years ago

Where I teach (middle school, small town, ultra-conservative state) the student Eco Club members are the recyclers and pull - okay, drag - the adults along with them. They understand better than some of their elders what's at stake, and I am very proud of them.

Meda Arbour
Meda A9 years ago

My daughter's middle school is just beginning a recycling program. In fact, I'm attending the first meeting of the new Green Club tomorrow. Our PTO is purchasing all necessary containers for collection.

Our local Rescue Mission recently began a recycling pick-up service, creating jobs for more than a dozen homeless people. The proceeds from the sale of the recyclables fund the services they provide to the homeless in our area. So in addition to all the environmental reasons, recycling directly benefits the people in our community, too.

Pretty cool, huh?

Ronnie Citron-Fink

Yes, school recycling is such an important step in getting kids to become eco-conscious citizens. Check out this recycling system.
I think this system for recycling is so clever because instead of the typical recycling bins for paper, plastic, glass, aluminum etc., the bins are labeled recycle, compost and landfill. These cans would help kids think differently about where their garbage ends up. It would work great in a school setting.