New Recycling Program Begins at MES: “Earth Responders”
Manitou Elementary School has a new recycling group called “Earth Responders”. They collect used writing instruments for recycling, diverting them from ending up in landfills. Earth Responders is a play on the words first responders (ie: responding first when there is a need).
It all began after MES staff member Meghann Turner had attended an exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium this summer. She said, “The exhibit was created to draw attention to the growing problem of plastics accumulating in our environment. I decided to bring the message home and see if students were willing to take a step and make a small change in their habits to try to reduce plastic waste.”
She was very pleased with the response. “Our school staff was also willing to take on the challenge and work towards responsible citizenship together.”Turner called an "Earth Responders" meeting and had over 40 students attend the first meeting.
“The music room was packed! We talked about how waste is sorted and where it goes,” she said. They also discussed a number of sobering facts on ocean plastic pollution, how to be plastic-wise, and ways to protect the oceans.
“We ended on a positive note,” Turner continued, “with students sharing about plastic-wise choices going on in their own homes; how parents pack food in reusable containers and use cloth shopping bags, for example.”
As a group, they decided to make large cans for collecting and up-cycling markers, pens, highlighters, white-board markers and mechanical pencils.
A smaller group of Earth Responders dedicated their own time to decorating and labeling the collecting cans that would go in each classroom.
Earth Responders monitor the cans and remind friends (and teachers!) how and what to recycle. When the cans are full, an Earth Responder
will bring it to Turner, and she will deliver them to Staples to be recycled. Staples separates the writing instruments by material composition,
then they are cleaned, shredded, and made into new recycled products.
A group of dedicated Earth Responders and Turner regularly go from class to class at lunch-time, reminding students how to sort recycling and trash, and having discussions with students who have any questions about how to sort their waste.
“The creation of this program has shown me how willing students at MES are to help, how generous they are with their time, and how deeply they can think about a complex subject. It has been a very uplifting and heart-warming experience with the students,” Turner concluded.