District, schools, gear up to recycle more
Lincoln Elementary students roared and clapped as a tiger mascot and a giant recycling triangle danced into the gym on Monday morning. And as the first school to welcome the new Thompson School District recycling mascot, they will have the chance to name him.
Gallegos Sanitation Inc. (GSI), which is the district's trash and recycling hauler, is working with the district to educate students and staff about the value of recycling or diverting waste from the county landfill.
A representative of Gallegos held up a cone from several on the table and told the students that cone represented 13 percent – the amount that Lincoln is currently diverting from the landfill. "We want you to increase it!" she said as she picked up several more cones. "We want you to get to 100 percent!" She then showed a slideshow and talked about saving the nation's natural resources.
Trudy Trimbath, environmental specialist for the district, said one of the goals of Facilities Services is to provide educational opportunities for students and staff. "As part of our recycling program, we are introducing a new mascot this year. The mascot is intended to create more excitement for students and to inspire learning," Trimbath said.
Prior to their visit to a school for an assembly or presentation, Trimbath said Facilities staff performs a recycling audit at the site (what the process is at lunch, containers in classrooms, size of dumpsters, etc.). "After the audit, Facilities follows up with site staff on what can be done to increase the recycling diversion rate at that school. That follow up includes staff training and/or a site-wide assembly," she said. The audit process also involves taking pictures of current practices and "staging" future practices, she said. "These pictures are integrated into the slide show to help students become more engaged in the recycling process," she added. "The slide show talks about why it is important to recycle, what can and cannot be recycled and what happens to the materials that are recycled."
Trimbath said that the significance of this year's program is that the district will be able to start recycling milk and juice cartons. "At one of the schools we are working with, the lunch trash volume was cut in half and the recycling volume doubled!" She said that the district is also working with local vendors to have materials donated so that students can make their own recycling signs for their school. Materials include old cabinet doors, picture frames, etc.
Our district recycling goal is a diversion rate of 37%. We are currently at 27%, up from 12% two years ago!
Facilities is eager to provide recycling education throughout the district.