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« High Stocks Drive Prices Lower | Main | Lessons from Montclair's Recycle Master »

October 12, 2009


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I think educating the students and staff is the most important thing you can do. When I rode around our town with the person in charge of recycling he took me to the schools a day after the teachers had meetings there (no students were present.) Those teachers didn't use the recycle bins for paper refuse or plastic containers, just threw them in the regular garbage. Obviously not setting a very good example for the kids!
Another big problem at the schools is that the janitorial staff is not educated about recycling and they have no incentive to participate in a recycling program. In fact, many of them would not be able to understand pertinent instructions because they do not speak the language (in this case, English.) So that is a problem that needs to be addressed.
I had some ideas beyond educating and engaging the staff/students, and I also asked my 12-year-old daughter for her ideas. Here are some that we came up with:
--Switch from fluorescent to LED light fixtures wherever possible.
--Make sure there are paper and plastic recycle bins in every classroom and in the hallways.
--Make a presentation to kids on the importance of using stainless steel water bottles instead of disposable plastic water bottles, and have a fund raiser to sell the stainless steel ones.
--Start a school compost heap and get kitchen staff trained on its importance and how to use it.
--Ask school buses not to idle when they arrive ahead of time for pick up. This wastes gas and pollutes.
--When the budget allows, buy Energy Star appliances for the kitchen.
--Again, when budget allows, look into the water fountain system in the school. A pedal operated on is better for germ control.
--In the cafeteria there should be biodegradable utensils and trays. Not sure of their cost, but it is definitely worth exploring.
--Serve organic milk/fruit in the cafeteria. Look into seeing if you can get a special $ deal from a local supplier based on volume.
--Make sure all computers are put to sleep when not in use.
--Also, look into the heating/cooling systems. My daughter's school is so over heated sometimes that teachers have to open windows in the winter.I know that there is a central system outside the school, and that teachers have little climate control in individual classrooms, but it seems that this system results in a lot of waste, and needs to be changed.
There are many other ideas, but I hope this is a good start.

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