We do a lot in my school towards the goal of becoming a "Zero Waste" school. We have a ways to go, but I think we're doing pretty well. I'll talk about some of our efforts in upcoming posts.
For my first post I'll be talking about Terracycle.com.
I'm in charge of my school's terracycling efforts. If you haven't heard of terracycling (or upcycling) it is basically taking something and making it into something new without having to melt it down or destroy it.
You've seen those purses and bookbags made of Capri-sun pouches, right? Or birdhouses made out of bent license plates? That's terracycling!
In my school we collect a bunch of items throughout the year that we send in to terracycle.com. They pay for the shipping AND they pay us for the items (usually about 2 cents for each item) and then we decide what to do with the money. So far each year we've made about $400, usually making more than the year before though. I always give my kids the option of spending the money on themselves or others and every year they've made me proud by choosing to spend it on others.
We collect Elmer's glue sticks and bottles, plastic tape dispensers, Solo-style plastic cups, pens/markers, and Capri-sun style juice pouches.
|These bins in our school lobby make it easy for the whole school to contribute.|
|These bigger bins are placed at the ends of all the hallways to snatch up stuff that people aren't willing to take to the lobby bins.|
Last year we bought an acre of land in Alaska for a nature preserve, provide 25 veterans with a 'meals on wheels' type dinner, provided 7 young mothers a week's worth of diapers, offset the carbon footprint of me riding my Vespa to work every day, two families in Africa were outfitted with baby chicks through Heifer International, and 25 people in central Asia were given clean water for a year!
Way better than blowing it all on a pizza party, right?!
On top of all that we keep a running tally of the number of pounds of trash we keep from going into the landfill. So far this year we've already kept about 75 pounds of Capri-sun pouches out of the landfill! My students over the years that I've done this have kept nearly half a ton of garbage out of the landfill!
If you haven't checked out terracycling before, give it a try! It takes a little work to collect and box up the materials, but I think it's worth it. It's a great way to work some service learning into your school year.
Like I said, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what we do here to be Zero Waste, but I think it's the easiest place to start and has the most obvious/concrete rewards. ($)
Do you terracycle in your school?