Emily M.It is never too early to take action towards waste reduction. After meeting with the Fallbrook Street Elementary School Recycling Club, Emily wanted to share the students’ enthusiasm about recycling with all of you! Read on for some inspiration to start a recycling program at a school or office near you!

From the time students enter the halls of Fallbrook Street Elementary School, they are coached to become strong leaders. Joshua Mills’ 5th grade class is a shining example, leading the school in efforts to be more environmentally active. As part of their rotating class jobs, students serve as recycling collectors, traveling from classroom to classroom “like ninjas” so as not to disrupt the learning environment. They compile the school’s recycling into a central bin and remove any non-recyclable items.

recycling ninja
You don’t have to be a student to be a recycling ninja! Check out the Ocean Conservancy’s Recycling Ninja pledge here.

What keeps them motivated to be dedicated recyclers? “Recycling is important to me because I like to have a clean environment,” said one student. “I like to keep my school clean,” said another. Many of them echoed this sentiment: “I love to recycle because I don’t want paper going to the landfills because you can recycle and reuse it.” To help encourage other students and teachers to adopt this perspective, they created informative posters displayed around campus and presented at a school-wide leadership rally.

As they look ahead to 6th grade, the students are excited to continue this recycling program. One student mentioned he is transferring schools, but intends to bring this knowledge with him to his new school.

albatross jar
The contents of this jar represent items commonly mistaken as food by marine life such as albatross. These items include plastic utensils, a lighter, and bottle caps.

During I Love A Clean San Diego’s free presentation, we built upon their recycling foundation and discussed next steps – further ways to reduce overall lunch waste. When I left, Mr. Mills was already scheming on how to teach math through a classroom worm bin.

To conclude our interview, I asked the students one thing they want the people of San Diego to know. They had some sound and simple words to live by:

“Don’t put things that you shouldn’t recycle in the recycling bin.”

“Don’t pollute because we won’t have good air.”

“If you see some garbage, pick it up, even if it’s not yours.”

“Pick up after your cats and dogs.”

Based on the variety of these responses, we can see how one small step towards waste diversion can lead to a lifetime of environmentally-minded choices.

Comment below to tell us about what your school is doing to help keep your community clean and green!

Interested in having our educators visit your classroom? We are currently scheduling for the 2015-2016 school year. To schedule, please email our education department at education@cleansd.org.

classroom panorama