Trash Trials and Tribulations

Powers Green TeamPowers Upper Elementary

Celebrates America Recycles Day

Thanks to the help of these dedicated Green Team members and Mrs. Mishanec, Powers Upper Elementary sorted cafeteria “trash” into 5 *distinct categories.  No easy task with 4 lunch periods serving over 765 kids!  FPS has an awesome, comprehensive recycling program.  The challenge is getting students and staff to see the value in “trash” and recognize that these natural resources can be used over and over again instead of senselessly throwing into landfills.  Recycling is easy and readily available in our schools and homes.  FPS can recycle aluminum, paper, milk cartons, plastic bottles, yogurt containers and fruit cups in their cafeterias.  So why don’t more kids participate?  Is it lack of knowledge, time or simple laziness?  Here’s my take away:

1. You MUST have staff “buy in” and set expectations that recycling is important in order for a recycling program to succeed.  Watch “Be the Solution”.

2. You MUST educate students and staff on what can be recycled by showing examples of materials and demonstrating. Admittedly, this is more challenging than you might think.

3. You MUST have “easy to understand” signage with pictures at eye level and consistency in trash can setup.  Volunteers, like Ericka and Bonnie are essential!Ericka and Bonnie rock!

I learned a lot Friday.  Including kids have a 1 minute attention span and it’s important to focus simply on “what and how to recycle”.  After the Trash Sort, we had a 20 minute group discussion with 30 kids examining trash and identifying the various natural resources we “saved” by recycling.  We can motivate participation effectively by developing an understanding how recycling reduces the need to exploit Earth’s resources, will reduce pollution and protect forests to help nurture biodiversity.  Additionally, we will be sending a grade appropriate math worksheet to all math teachers encouraging kids calculate cumulative trash based on results and how many resources were “saved”.  The Green Team is planning to create a display posting monthly recycling rates and propose a contest against the other upper elementary schools. Phew.  Clearly our work is cut out for us but we are definitely progressing in the right direction!

Here are the Trash Sort results:

Recyclables -49 lbs.

Uneaten food -47 lbs.

Single-use packaging -13 lbs.

Miscellaneous trash -19 lbs.

Styrofoam trays -3 lbs.  (more impressive is the 270 units that were captured and recycled!)

Interested in bringing PLP to your school?  Dates are filling up.  Email me to set up your schools Trash Sort!


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