Recycling habits start young
December 22, 2011
Parley’s Park Elementary School is working to reduce its cafeteria waste and teach students how to separate recycling from waste items, according to Green Team Leader Tania McIntyre.
"We’re trying to educate the kids so that they are responsible for their waste and teach them values for the rest of their life," McIntyre said. "I’ve been in the cafeteria every day for the last two weeks teaching students to separate recycling from the waste. The kids are doing really well. They are excited and they want to help in any way that they can."
Parley’s Park custodians and lunch staff have been helping with the project, according to McIntyre, who said her goal is to get all of the schools in Park City to participate. More than 600 students participate in the green lunch program. When the project began, the garbage from the school’s three lunches weighed an average of 300 pounds, she said. To get the students to understand the significance of the project, McIntyre referenced to one of the students’ favorite recess games, tetherball.
"A tetherball weighs about one pound. So I said they are throwing away about 300 tetherballs a day, which is 1,500 a week. I’ll be happy if the students just start learning at this level. To teach these values to the kids at this age is a huge thing."
The school is organizing a "green team" for the cafeteria, where students can help each other in recycling efforts. Parley’s Park second-grade teachers Jose Ardanaz and Stacey Harris have been talking in their classrooms about the program, according to McIntyre, and the teachers are organizing an environmental project that could win a $5,000 grant for the school.
The school is also brainstorming ways to dispose of the food waste, she said, adding that compost is the best answer, but it’s hard to create that in the winter and on a schoolwide scale. They are trying to follow a model in place in several schools in Boulder, Colo.
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"Boulder has a green-star school system. They recycle and compost and we’re trying to emulate them," she said. "We are trying to educate students that if you aren’t going to drink the milk, then don’t take it. If you aren’t going to open that plastic bag of utensils, then don’t take it," she said.
The best way to start good recycling habits is to practice at home, McIntyre said, adding that students need to be responsible for their actions at home and at school.
"It comes down to educating your kids on how to eat, and them being responsible for their own food and waste when they are away from their parents. It adds up," she said.