Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

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I teach 2nd grade, and we went on a field trip to Eco-cycle in Boulder (see photos below). I thought I’d share a bit about that, and what we’re doing with kids at our school regarding recycling.

Eco-cycle is an interesting place to visit if you’ve never been. The facility sorts and bales plastic, aluminum, and glass. We learned that aluminum can be recycled an infinite number of times, whereas glass has to use more natural resources and sand to be recycled. Plastic can only be recycled two to three times, so one big takeaway was to try not to use plastic at all. The students saw the machinery working, and many employees hand-sorting paper, plastic and cardboard. If plastic bags or shredded paper get into the machines, they can cause a lot of trouble! Please put the shredded paper into the compost! Also, plastic bags can now be recycled at the grocery store.

We learned that many centers aren’t making much money right now on recycling, but Boulder County started recycling in the 1970’s and has built many customers in the area. Our class also had an employee from Eco-cycle come to our school prior to the field trip. She worked with the kids and played games to help them learn what things can be recycled or composted, or have to go to the landfill.

Our school, Whittier International Elementary, is called a Green Star School, which means we are part of a national model for waste reduction in schools. There are currently 54 Green Star Schools in the program, and they are all in Boulder County. In Green Star Schools we work to reduce the waste we produce by adding compost collections and enhancing recycling throughout the school. The lunch room has compost bins and recycling bins, and these are also placed in other areas of the school, and in all the classrooms. I think the most important thing we learn at Whittier is that it’s best to reduce what we use, and then to try our best to reuse things.

~ Mary McDaniel