By: Erin Tessier
Recently I took a look at our current recycling practices here at CMP as part of a grad school project. We do a wonderful job as a school in recycling and reducing our waste by having a knowledgeable staff, lots of recycling receptacles, and by composting (nature’s way of recycling). But of course, there is always room for improvement, so we decided to assess our program. We talked with teachers, observed classrooms during lunch time, did a waste audit looking at exactly what was in our trash and recycling bins, and also distributed a paper survey to our full-time teachers. We found that although we generally think we know what is recyclable, there are a few things we can learn and improve upon. We wanted to share our findings with you to demonstrate our continued efforts to be “green” and hope you might learn something about your household recyclable items too. It should be noted, that this information is related to San Diego City residents, since other jurisdictions might have slightly different rules. Make sure to check out your own city’s recycling information.
Our staff and students are apparently overachievers and are trying to recycle too much, since they are putting some things in the recycling that are unfortunately not recyclable. It can be really confusing given recent changes and some tricky items. Also, people often err on the side of hoping something is recyclable, rather than not, which is not necessarily best. Some common items that were inaccurately put in our recycling and shouldn’t be there were paper towels, Kleenex, plastic utensils and flimsy plastic wrappers and plastic bags. Although paper products are generally recyclable, paper towels, napkins, and Kleenex are too processed to be recycled. They can be composted however. Plastic bags are also recyclable, but they must be taken to a collection receptacle at your local grocery store or Target/Walmart. Don’t forget to also collect bread bags, cereal bags, and Ziploc bags. They all can be recycled too! Snack bags, meal bar wrappers and food pouches can also be recycled, but ONLY through programs like teracycle. Here at CMP we’ll be considering these programs in the future as well. Big news this summer on the San Diego City recycling front is that Styrofoam food containers are now recyclable too! Simply give them a rinse and put them in the bin along with everything else. Large Styrofoam packaging is also recyclable, but those packing peanuts still need to be taken to your local post office or UPS store.
The teachers requested new signage for their classroom bins to help students remember what is recyclable. We of course used images since a majority of our kids are not able to read…yet =). We chose items that are most frequently found in our students’ lunches like yogurt/ containers, applesauce cups, lunchable containers, plastic water bottles, and paper. We also put up some more detailed signage for our staff. In the coming weeks, I will provide recycling lessons for all the classes when they come to visit the Nature Lab. We hope that all of these efforts will create even more accurate recycling here at CMP, and inspire the children to be lifelong recyclers and environmental stewards. See below for more informative links.