COAST CITIES — As students return to their schools, Waste Management of North County wants to point out that school are one of the most potentially productive, yet often overlooked, sources of recycling and conservation in any community. Now is an ideal time for educators, teachers, parents and students to start planning “green school” programs built around the concepts of reducing, reusing, and recycling waste.
Every year, schools produce millions of tons of waste that can either be recycled or reused, from paper to discarded cafeteria food. However, The George Lucas Educational Foundation’s Edutopia Web site’s poll reveals that 74 percent of the 118 schools that participated in its online poll have either limited recycling programs or none at all.
“Every school needs recycling programs for office paper, classroom paper and cafeteria waste,” said Ken Ryan, Waste Management of North County and Coast Waste Management district manager. “Office and classroom paper recycling can be as easy as equipping every classroom with a receptacle for used paper that’s collected separately from other garbage. Recycling cafeteria waste only a small effort and it’s already done in hundreds of schools across the country. Once the kids get into the spirit it takes on a life of its own.”
Schools interested in starting recycling programs can call their local Waste Management facility for information or collect the materials to take to a drop-off location in the community. Waste Management has recycling centers in Del Mar, Carlsbad and Oceanside.
There are also many resources on the Web covering everything from recycling to reducing consumption to buying. DoSomeThing.org provides a step-by-step plan for starting a school-wide recycling program that describes all of the internal and external issues a recycling committee would have to consider starting recycling. Its related site, earth911.org, gets into even funkier conservation programs, like how to travel to a prom green style.
Waste Management offers www.ThinkGreen.com/classroom, a K-12 resource from powered by Discovery Education. Complete with standards-based lesson plans, compelling videos, interactive activities and Think Green Resources to engage students and extend the learning to the home, www.ThinkGreen.com/classroom is a potentially powerful suite of tools for educators seeking new materials to enliven environmental lessons. Teachers of children grades K-5 will find resources that will help them answer almost any question about the Three Rs of reducing, reusing and recycling.
Parents can help schools achieve their recycling goals by reducing the amount of consumables that children carry in and by buying environmentally friendly school supplies. For example, kids who bring their own lunch can cut waste by:
— Packing lunches in washable, reusable bags instead of disposable bags, and packing water in refillable bottles. If parents are worried about losing refillable bottles, buy one with a cap that can be clipped to a lunch bag. Additional ideas include:
— Using whole fruits and vegetables as snacks, rather than packaged; and
— Replacing sandwich bags with reusable sandwich-sized containers.
“There’s a lot of home-based common sense that can make a big difference in schools’ environmental footprints,” Ryan said. “Between home and school, we have an opportunity to create a generation that sees conservation and recycling as a routine part of every day, which is just what it should be.”