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By Sara Verrillo
Two-time New Jersey Recycle-Bowl Champion Egg Harbor City Community School recently gave us a behind-the-scenes look into their successful recycling program. The school is a great example of how leadership and a competitive spirit can increase recycling rates.
Before they were a success story, Egg Harbor City Community School struggled like many schools to create a sustainable plan for recycling. School leaders knew that unless recycling was incorporated into daily routine, it would fall by the wayside as it had in the past. When they were approached to participate in the national Recycle-Bowl, it was just the motivation they needed to take on the challenge.
Students in Jim Connelly's class who help to collect & transport recycling after school breakfast strike a pose by the cafeteria recycling and waste bins.
The competition brought excitement and attention back to recycling at the school, and it took leadership and cooperation at all levels to turn the enthusiasm into effective action.
Indoor recycling bins were placed throughout the school, including in every classroom, the gymnasium, and most importantly, the cafeteria. Flyers and posters were placed around the property to ensure the message was visible. Students were recruited to help collect recycling from the classrooms after breakfast in the morning and transport it to the main recycling bins. Custodial staff ensured the proper collection of recycling from the cafeteria and classrooms after school ended. During lunch, students helped one another to ensure materials were recycled, and they even used grabbers to pick out any misplaced items.
Lisa Jiampetti and Jen Whisner showcase the school's outdoor recycling depot.
The school, which serves 230 students, now fills more than 15, 95-gallon recycling carts and a 4-yard recycling dumpster with materials each week. Principal Jack Griffith credits school leaders Lisa Jiampetti, who is the coordinator of enrichment activities during non-school hours and also Mayor of Egg Harbor City, as well as Custodian Jen Whisner for the program’s success and sustainability. The student participation, visible messaging, and the commitment of staff ensure the program carries over from year to year.
For schools looking to implement a similar program, Griffith says the key is to create a manageable plan, devote resources and ensure everyone is on board, which takes direction from leadership and continual follow-up.
Top: Outdoor recycling carts and stationary dumpsters provided by ACUA.Bottom Left: Recycling and trash bins placed inside the school. Bottom Right: Trash and recycling containers stationed outside on school property.
Jiampetti also emphasizes the savings that comes along with recycling. By recycling, schools can significantly cut back on trash tipping fees. And for most Atlantic County schools, ACUA can provide outdoor recycling receptacles and collection at no cost.
Although it takes effort and cooperation, Egg Harbor City Community School proves that school recycling is not only doable, but can also be a fun and educational way for students to positively impact the community.
The 2015 Recycle-Bowl begins on October 15. Is your school registered? ACUA can help your school participate and improve its recycling program. Please contact us for more information.
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