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Back to School: Children Are Our Green Future

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Posted on Friday, April 21, 2017
By: J.P. Mascaro & Sons
Categories: Main Category

The crowd cheers, players celebrate and both sides of the little league field grab water bottles to rehydrate after an exhilarating but exhausting game.  And more often than we’d like to admit, these bottles end up in the trash.  What’s the problem with that you wonder?  We are raising considerate children who don’t even think about littering our grounds!  Unfortunately, it is actually a pretty big problem.  These bottles are recyclable and if thrown in the trash they end up at crowding our landfills instead of our recycling plants where they would be processed to enter the world again.  And the dilemma doesn’t end with bottles.  The EPA estimates that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable but we only recycle about 30% of it. 

So why are we picking on the little guys?  This is obviously a nationwide predicament that encompasses all ages! Yes, it certainly is. We are talking about the young generation because they are the future.  If we change their habits, we make recycling the expected standard, not the exception, which will result in the healthy environment and lifestyle we all deserve.  Education is the foundation for progress and the key to a sustainable future.  Recycling diminishes waste, saves energy, reduces harmful emissions to our air and water, decreases the need for raw material and creates jobs!  Fun fact: For every single landfill worker there are four recycling plant employees.  Look at that.  These soon to be recycling educated pros could be setting the stage for their own future employment. 

Now where to start? The classroom, of course!  Children spend nearly two-thirds of their waking hours inside schools which makes it the perfect place to start their recycling training. Not to mention it is also essential to make sure these schools are offering a clean and robust surrounding for them to thrive in! We not only need our children to learn about recycling, we need them and their schools to start implementing the actual process.  If you still aren’t convinced to start a school recycling program, think of the money that can be saved.  Recycling is significantly cheaper than trash disposal and school waste is 80% recyclable!  Look at all that room to make a difference for your health, the environment and your bank account!  Even the smallest steps can have significant advantages.  And the coolest part?  It’s easy!

Now that we are convinced to start teaching our leaders of tomorrow all about recycling, we need a game plan.   Let’s look at some simple ways to get started on turning our students and our schools green.


Most children are not aware of the consequences of not recycling and don’t believe their small amount of trash will make a difference.  Heck, most of us lack this vital awareness.  Education is the key for success.  Schools can start by giving a presentation highlighting the importance of recycling and how every single item thrown into the recycle bin rather than the trash can has an impact on their future.  Make certain they know how essential this goal is.  Research has consistently shown that there is greater performance on achieving goals when we understand and find the meaning behind them.  And don’t forget to point out what is and what isn’t recyclable!

Organize a Green Teem:

Support is necessary to triumphantly reach any goal and this is no exception. The entire school needs to be on board the eco-friendly train.  Make sure teachers and staff understand the importance and this will organically filter down to the students.  Appoint a recycling coordinator to oversee the operation and work with a local waste hauler.  Just recently the School District of Philadelphia partnered with waste removal company, J.P. Mascaro & Sons, to assist in their 5 year city-wide “GreenFutures” program aimed at establishing a full recycling program in each of the District’s 218 schools.  Follow in these footsteps!  Work together to conduct a waste audit to identify what types and quantities of waste your school generates and use the info to specify what areas to target.  Go Team!

Make Recycling Fun:

No matter how many birthday candles may be on your cake, you always love to have fun.  Create catchy recycling songs and organize a show and tell for the younger children.   Have the older students hold contests.  We might not want to admit it but people are incentive based.  Why not use this to our advantage?  There’s nothing wrong about learning about recycling through competition.  Try a week long recycling event where the student or classroom that brings in the most recyclables from home wins a prize.  Pizza party for the class that produces the most recyclable materials!  This could turn into an annual event! Make a game out of the process and have the students themselves come up with ideas on how to increase recycling.  Share interesting facts.  How many of you know that you could end up wearing your recycled plastic?  Well now you do! Used plastic that make it to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) can be chopped up, washed, heated, put through a machine to make fiber that is stretched into thread and then sold to the fashion industry to make your next trendy outfit. 

Recycling Projects:

Who couldn’t use a little bit of extra credit?  Many students learn by being hands on. Have then create gifts from recycled products.  And use all those materials collected from your contest to construct works of art and showcase them in an Art Fair.   The bins used to toss these items away need to be labeled.  Consider organizing a challenge and having the children themselves come up with the displays used for the containers.  Students enjoy things like competition, presentations, movies and working in groups. Understand what excites them and incorporate this into the learning process. 

Recycling Club:

Build up your college resume, hang out with friends and support the environment! Forming a recycling club in your school is a win-win.  Meet regularly to discuss the school recycling program and devise strategies to encourage eco-friendly attitudes.  Maybe come up with a visibly appealing and inventive logo for your club and start spreading the green word throughout the school.  Volunteer in the community, wear ribbons to promote awareness, and organize events that foster ways to increase recycling habits.  The club can be in charge of that art fair!

Clearly Marked Containers:

Ya gotta know where it all goes!  Have clearly marked containers that distinguish between trash and recyclables and place them all over your school.  Pictures speak 1000 words.  Think about including images of different recyclable materials on your containers.  Could that be a hint for the future winning label?

Field Trip:

Schedule a visit to your local recycling facility!  Nothing beats seeing something first-hand.  If you’re in the Berks County, Pa area you have the opportunity to explore TotalRecycle, one of the largest MRF’s in the country.  TotalRecycle offers an educational tour of its operation that allows you to put on your hard hat and experience the astonishing recycling process for yourself.  If you can’t find one in your area, some companies, like Waste Management, offer online tours of their centers.   

Practice What You Preach:

It’s hard to convince someone to eat healthy and not to smoke with a Big Mac and a cigarette in your hand.  Well the same goes for sustainability practices.  You can’t just teach recycling, you must take part in the process yourselves.  So begin making a conscious effort to ensure your own environmentally friendly waste products stay far away from landfills and discover the wonderful world of a recycling plant.   If not for yourself, your loved ones and your environment, think about the materials themselves!  Is it really fair to force a product to meet their end when it has the opportunity to be revitalized over and over again?!

Developing recycling savvy youth and creating green schools protect our surroundings, keep us all healthy and promote environmental proficiency.  Talk about becoming a triple threat!  And don’t get overwhelmed!  Start with just one or two items.  Remember even the smallest changes makes a big difference.

Tagged:Green, Recycle, Recycling, Education, School, Sustainability, Environment, Solid Waste, Trash, Composting, Organic, Evironmental Responsibility, Earth, Plastic Bottles, Kids, Children, Reuse, MRF, Earth Day, Green Schools

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