Green is now a primary color in homes and schools around the country. Historically, primary colors have traditionally been red, blue and yellow. But with the growing popularity of living a more “green” lifestyle in our culture, it’s not a surprise that many people want to see recycling take a more central role in our schools.
Recycling in a school setting teaches our children through our actions while at the same time helping our earth. Kids are directly involved in the effort, but they need adults in their school communities to take the lead. If you are one of these willing adults, here are five easy ways to get started.
As noble as your intentions and efforts are, you need others to help out in order for a school-wide recycling program to be successful. Talk with your child’s classroom teacher about your interest. Meet with your school’s administrator and parent group (for example, the PTA or a Community Garden Club). These people will be your biggest cheerleaders and will offer support when you need it. Once you have communicated with key people in your school community, start talking with other parents who share your interest in setting up a school-wide recycling effort.
Evaluate What’s Already Happening
Once you have a small support group set up, make a list of systems of recycling already in place. Some of these systems may include:
* Receptacles for paper recycling in each classroom and common area * Receptacles for recycling cans and bottles in different places around the school * A School or Community Garden with a maintained compost pile * Collections of ink cartridges or cell phones by different school groups for fundraising and recycling at the same time * A large worm bin for scraps from the cafeteria
* A recycling program to collect food wrappers to mail in to companies like Terracycle
There could be others. Make sure you make notes about them and who is heading up these recycling efforts – you might be able to partner with them!
Make a List
As you find out what systems are already in place regarding recycling, write them down as well as those who participate in them. These people – the ones who are already recycling – don’t need to be sold on the value of setting up a system of recycling in a school setting. They now make up your recycling network. Communicate your desire and willingness to help them in their recycling efforts.
No matter what systems are in place for recycling, it’s a good idea to start small. Identify a need with a solution that’s easy to put into practice. In my school community, a parent volunteer started fundraising through recycling wrappers and quickly became a Recycling Coordinator. Another parent found out about her recycling efforts and offered to donate all of the soda cans in his business, which turned out to be a couple of hundred cans a week that needed to be processed for a refund. The Recycling Coordinator already had enough tasks and gratefully accepted help by yet another parent who is now in charge of recycling those soda cans each week.
Whatever recycling effort you want to start, make sure you start small. Maybe you just want to make sure that every classroom has a bin for recycling paper and you empty them each week, or maybe you’re the parent who can help by turning in soda cans for the refund while recycling at the same time. Whatever you choose to do, make it manageable.
Keep It Simple
People are more likely to participate if you make it simple for them. If you’re setting up a new system in a classroom, talk with the teacher about what might be the easiest way to implement it. If it’s a school-wide system, spend some time discussing logistical options with your school’s administration and your network of recyclers. More time invested up front will equal more participation in your program.
Recycling can be an important part of your school and community curriculum. With your help, green can become a primary color in your school community!