With a school-wide mission to change the world, Woodland Park Academy (WPA) in Grand Blanc, Michigan strives to be the very best. This year, we decided to participate in Recycle Bowl, a competition from Keep America Beautiful, in which schools implement recycling programs to increase or improve recycling rates in communities, while also providing teachers and students some educational opportunities around recycling and waste reduction.
As part of this challenge, WPA hosted a friendly classroom competition to motivate students in kindergarten through 8th grade to adopt sustainable behaviors for their futures. We celebrated America Recycles Day by challenging students to bring in the most recyclable materials from their community to earn points for recycling. Classrooms earned points per pound of material, with paper counting as 1 point per pound, cardboard as 5 points, and plastic as 20 points.
Our competition was a great success! Students brought in enough paper, plastic, and cardboard to accomplish the following three statistics as reported by pepsico.
- We collected an estimated 1,310 containers - that's approximately 78 lbs. and is 13% of the way toward achieving the goal of 10,000 containers.
- We conserved the equivalent of 12 gallons of gasoline improving management of solid waste and diverting materials into the recycling stream.*
- We averted greenhouse gases at a level equivalent to growing 2 medium-sized coniferous trees for 10 years.*
As a teacher, it was inspiring to see the awesome participation. Every day, students were coming in carrying garbage bags of recyclables that had been originally destined for the garbage. Kindergarteners were walking down the hallway to their classroom with bags bigger than themselves - and the middle school students began to assist them safely to the classrooms. Students were making sure their classroom garbage cans only had garbage in them, and didn't contain recyclable material. Congregations of students were huddled around the posted daily scores, and if they weren’t in first place they discussed what else could be done to get more recycling!
At this point, our goal was attained; our students were making a difference and changing the world. But of course we did not stop there, even if our school recycling bins were full. Students began to research ways to repurpose recyclables and decided to build a greenhouse.
We are still working the on logistics of actually building the plastic bottle greenhouse, but can’t wait to start our own school garden. When the results of recycle bowl were published, we were happy to celebrate our success and are even more motivated to get our garden growing and continue to make the earth a better place to live.
Katherine Davis is a 6th and 7th grade science teacher at Woodland Park Academy.