At Durant Intermediate School, we began recycling about a year ago when we started our student green team. We partner with Choctaw Recycling, which is an organization that collects all of our recyclable materials and sells them to companies that make them into new materials that we use in our everyday lives. We collect and sort our recycling into categories based on what Choctaw Recycling can take. We recycle paper, cardboard, plastic containers (#1,#2,#5), plastic film (#2,#4), aluminum cans and styrofoam. We put a lot of effort into teaching our school how to recycle correctly. We have even developed our own recycling game and worksheet. The first task for new green team members is to commit to learning how to recycle.
In our building, we have three primary recycling stations, one for each grade’s main hallway. We collect several bags of recyclable materials a week from our stations. We also collect styrofoam cups from the cafeteria. Our Green Team members pickup, sort and move recyclables to the outdoor pickup stations.
Our school uses a lot of paper, and we recycle more than half. To capture as much as possible, we place paper collection bins in the classrooms. Green Team members take the bins to the main recycle stations and empty them. We sort through an enormous amount of paper each week and pick out any trash, and then pack it into boxes. Choctaw Recycling makes a special trip to our school to pick-up our paper recycling, because we have so much. Some teachers are especially good at recycling and collect more paper than others, as well as other recyclables like plastic bottles. In the Green Team classroom we have a complete station to collect everything that can be recycled in our community.
We use things from our waste stream to create and manage our recycle stations, especially boxes from the cafeteria. We also use scrap paper to make the signs so that everyone knows where to put their recyclable materials. We actually use waste items for most of our projects, even our Christmas tree was made out of waste - the only new part was some paint and glue.
Most everyone in the school helps with recycling, and the Green Team manages and designs the system. Currently, we’re doing a waste stream analysis of our school so that we can figure out how to improve. There is a lot of waste coming from our cafeteria each day, but unfortunately a lot of it can’t be recycled in our town.
We also collect food scraps in the cafeteria for our composting system, which is located in our outdoor classroom. Some days we get almost a bucket full of food scraps and other days we get very little. We’re still figuring out how to collect more food scraps from the cafeteria, but we’re making progress in learning how to compost. We currently have three different compost piles. Green Team members take turns doing the compost each day.