Earth Day 2014 is April 22. Earth Day offers a great opportunity to spread awareness about simple things we can do to make our communities cleaner, more environmentally friendly places.
Ramp Up Recycling
In honor of Earth Day, my middle school is having a friendly competition among the three grade levels (sixth, seventh, and eighth). Each grade is trying to recycle as much as possible during the month of April. Recycling bins labeled for each grade level are in both the cafeteria and the main hallway so that students can add their recyclables to the appropriate containers. Each day, student council volunteers weigh the recyclable materials and add to the grade-level totals. The grade with the most recyclables by weight at the end of the month wins! This competition not only encourages students to recycle, but helps raise awareness about how many items they could be recycling rather than throwing them in the trash each day.
Turn Your Trash into Cash
Many programs exist to help your school earn money for “trash.” Items that can be recycled for cash for your school include electronics, wrappers, paper, bottles and cans, and other recyclable items. Andrea Burston, an elementary school counselor in North Carolina, implemented a program through Terracycle that allows her school to earn money for waste. At one of my previous schools, we used Paper Retriever to earn some extra cash for materials we were already recycling. Cartridges for Kids is another organization that gives schools money for recycling old electronics, cell phones, ink cartridges, and more. If you’d rather donate items for a charitable cause, seek out local organizations—such as domestic violence shelters, animal shelters, or organizations supporting veterans—that accept recyclables.
Have a Spring Litter Sweep
As the weather gets warmer, it is the perfect time to clean and beautify your school. Enlist the help of students: Provide them with work gloves and trash bags so they can pick up trash around the building and outdoors. Also, encourage them to recycle items when possible during the litter sweep. Having students participate in beautifying the school grounds will give them a sense of ownership of their school. They will be less likely to drop a wrapper or other trash on the floor or outdoors if they know how hard they worked to clean it up.
These simple ideas will help you get your whole school involved in being cleaner and greener!
What are you doing on Earth Day (and every day) to make our planet better?
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