Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Going Green efforts in my school

So, in my school I'm one of the teachers who leads our going green efforts. I've always been into conservation and the environment. I love getting kids excited about it too. 

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 

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 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.
That's when I have the kids research organizations (Terracycle has many on their website as a starting point) and write a persuasive letter to their classmates about why we should donate to their chosen organization. In the end we decide to give a percentage of the total to each of the organizations and then translate that into the amount of money they get from us. The kids love it!

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?


  1. Wow -- very impressive. I feel good after recycling paper and plastic! Although I'm overwhelmed with state testing and beginning-of-the-end-of-the-year activities, I'd love to look into this for next school year. Thanks!
    Amy Marie

  2. Never heard of that site;I can't wait to tell my principal about it!

    Mind Sparks

  3. I had never heard of terracycling before! Thanks for sharing this -- I'm very intrigued!

    I am your newest follower :)

    Mindful Rambles


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