If your school doesn’t already have a recycling program in place, consider starting one. Experts say the general steps to follow are:
- Meet with your school administrator, to get them on board. Emphasize the benefits of the program, including cost savings (less trash means lower garbage fees).
- Select an organizer. This could be a teacher, a class, or a club. It works best if there are a bunch of people involved who can cheer each other on.
- Choose the item you’re going to recycle. Consider starting small. Don’t try to bite off everything at first. The point at the beginning is just to get people into the recycling mindset and start ingraining recycling habits. Maybe start with just paper first, or cans and bottles. If that seems too much to bite off, consider just ink cartridges or batteries.
- Do a waste audit. Take a week or two to measure just how much material you’ll be recycling. This will give you an idea of how much you’ll have to dispose of. It also does a great job of raising awareness within the school community of how much is currently ending up in the landfill that doesn’t have to.
- Find a recycler. Find an organization that recycles the materials you’re collecting. Ask them about collection or drop-off procedures. If they pay for materials, find out their prices.
- Set up a collection and storage process. Install clearly marked bins for your recyclables. Consider using the wall behind the bins to post fun and engaging posters that help people understand the recycling program and get excited about it.
- Educate the school community about the program. This means school administrators, teachers, students, and parents. And don’t forget the custodial staff. Emphasize the benefits of the program and how easy it will be to follow.
- Measure and celebrate. Keep track of how much material you are diverting from landfills, and then choose a milestone a few months into the program to announce and celebrate your results. Consider giving prizes to individuals or classes that have had the most impact.
If your school already has a recycling program, here are a few more ideas for projects you can do to divert even more items from landfills.
- Hold an electronics recycling day. Coordinate with an electronics recyclers in your area and schedule a day when families and staff can bring in old electronics that otherwise would end up in landfills.
- Hold a white elephant party. Invite families and staff can bring in old items they plan to toss but that other people could use, everything from books, tools, clothes, sporting goods, and assorted household items.
- Campaign for a composting program. This will take a little more work, but try seeing if you can get your school to implement a composting program in the cafeteria. If your local waste management company doesn’t take compostables, see if you can coordinate with a local greenhouse or farm to see if they’ll take your school’s organic waste.
For more on setting up a school recycling program, check out these resources: