The Green Team is a new recycling program established at the Bend, Oregon school, R.E. Jewell Elementary. With this hands-on experience, kids learn the “other” three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle.
At Jewell Elementary, a group of 24 student volunteers give up lunch recess and even a part of lunchtime to work through waste and determine what can be recycled. The goal is to minimize the school’s environmental impact (and also to teach kids about caring for Mother Earth).
So, how did the Green Team get started? Local garbage/recycling company, Cascade Disposal partnered with a specialist in nutrition wellness and school administrators. Says Patricia Williams of Cascade Disposal:
“Always as a refuse company we’re looking to increase the diversion from our landfills. As we’re teaching kids, the better their environment will be.”
The Green Team works as follows: Lunch period progresses as usual, but towards the end, the team members start working, after donning Cascade Disposal hats and grabbing the large recycling bins.
The participating 5th graders joined the team after a recommendation by teachers, and/or after volunteering themselves. The kids were required to write an essay explaining their desire to be part of the Green Team program.
Every day, Green Team kids review the recycle bins to make sure things inside are clean and able to be recycled. Those items are inserted into the larger grey recycling bins and taken on to the next step.
I just love reading some of the kids’ quotes from their essays:
“This would help me at home and the rest of my life,” says Christine White
Brayden stated that “We need to make a statement that we need to recycle everything we can to save the Earth.”
Fortunately, for Bend, more than one school is involved now. Jewell has inspired Bear Creek and High Lakes Elementary to implement similar Green Team programs. Plans are in the works to include additional elementary schools by the end of the 2008-09 school year. Even more aspirational, the 5th graders that are involved may be able to pay it forward to Middle School in the fall.
At Jewell Elementary, the Green Team members have made posters that hang above each recycle station in the school. This should help other kids get on the bandwagon when it comes to recycling.
One of the most inspirational aspects of Green Team in Bend is the fact that, before the program, only paper and cardboard were recycled at school. Now, plastic utensils, milk cartons, water bottles and more are separated out for reusing and recycling! Each day, more than three bags of recycling are collected from each school that would otherwise have gone to waste. Per week, that translates to 2 yards of trash!
We can only do so much education at home – I love stories like this where the schools take our green lessons a step further!
Any good news from your own school district? Please share!