EarthKeepers Launch School Recycling Program!

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Becci Curry, gifted teacher at Sugar Mill Elementary, no longer has to take home her students’ recyclables every week to deposit in her residential recycling bins. Advanced Disposal, St. Marys, Woodbine, and Camden County’s waste collection vendor, is now collecting single stream recyclables at area schools at no cost to the schools or taxpayers.

According to Curry, the addition of a recycling program for schools not only keeps a large amount of materials from ending up at our local landfill, but also inspires the students to carry over their recycling habits into their homes. Gale Lizana, science teacher at St. Marys Elementary School, agrees.

“The students at St. Marys Elementary are going green by recycling their empty water bottles,” Lizana said. “Students can drop off the bottles on the way to lunch or while heading to their resource classes (Art, Music, PE).” Lizana said that several SMES 5th grade students made posters for the school encouraging students to recycle in the special receptacle placed in the school cafeteria.

Elizabeth King, Senior Beta Club Sponsor at Camden County High School, said that recycling has been going great at her school.

“The Senior Beta Club spearheaded the effort by placing bins around the school campus for collecting plastic drink bottles and aluminum cans, King said. “In the first three weeks of school in January, 275 gallons of plastic bottles were collected,” she continued. “Now teachers and students alike are living greener thanks to the encouragement of St. Marys EarthKeepers.”

In December 2007, at the urging of St. Marys EarthKeepers and other environmentally aware residents, the City of St. Marys incorporated a curbside recycling program into the City’s garbage collection plan. (Woodbine and Camden County were already practicing curbside recycling.) St. Marys residents embraced the program and demonstrated their dedication to living green with a 60% participation rate—more than twice the national average. St. Marys EarthKeepers, shortly thereafter, began talking to educators in the schools to develop a program to encourage recycling at schools. Currently, St. Marys EarthKeepers are working with commercial establishments to bring curbside recycling to the business sector of the community as well.

Residential Ops Manager for Advanced Disposal Ray West said that providing recycling collection for the schools is a good way to show their commitment to community involvement at all levels.

“We know the children are great influencers when it comes to home practices,” West said. “While they practice recycling at school, the concept becomes more and more entrenched in their minds as the ‘right thing to do’ and they are vigilant in persuading their parents and siblings to be better EarthKeepers at home. Recycling becomes their natural mindset as they grow up. It’s what they know, and it’s what they will practice for the rest of their lives.” West is in the process of setting up meetings with the other Camden County schools located in areas where curbside recycling is already offered to residents, and looks forward to working with the Kingsland schools in the future should they launch their own residential curbside recycling program.

Frank Quinby, Chairman of St. Marys EarthKeepers, is encouraged by the participating schools’ enthusiasm and hopes that it spreads to the entire county school system.

“The EarthKeepers slogan is, ‘together we can change the world’. We know that through education and by example, our children can fully understand the importance of protecting our environment. The school recycling program is a great beginning.”

For more information, call 912-729-1103, or visit www.stmarysearthkeepers.com.

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