TerraCycle was a company that I had never heard of until about a year ago when swapping Teachers Convention learning with some colleagues. Their enthusiasm was contagious, as they talked about this new way to make our school a greener place. As a Grade 4 teacher who covers a ” Waste and Our World” unit each year and the teacher facilitator of our school’s recycling club, my ears instantly perked up!
Through further discussions I learned that TerraCycle is a company that recycles various products that are otherwise thrown in the garbage. The company turns this waste into various products such as pencil cases, garden paving stones and even park benches. Terracycle then awards the people contributing ‘waste points’ based on their contributions. These points can be used to buy these products or can be converted into dollar value and used to donate to various charities. The best part was that it was all FREE!
When the leadership group I work with at our school was looking for a project that would make an impact both locally and globally, TerraCycling seemed just the thing. The leadership students set up small bins in each classroom, where students can recycle their plastic bags, Lunchable containers and cookie and cracker wrappers. They even set up a Tassimo up-cycling container in our staff room to encourage their teachers to get involved! Each month they meet to empty these containers and package them into boxes that are shipped free of charge to TerraCycle.
So far this year, I am proud to report that our school has up-cycled 1415 sandwich bags, 3356 cookie and cracker containers and 70 Lunchable containers (with another order currently on its way). We were also recently selected as a winner in the Mr. Christie’s Monthly Sweepstakes for sending in a shipment larger than 700 wrappers in the month of December.
Our leadership group has decided to divide the points our school has been awarded between all the classes so that everyone who has helped collect the waste can see first hand how their efforts can make a difference in the world. Already I have heard classes discussing using their points to buy water containers for a family in need and others that want to use their points to send a teenager to cooking camp. I am excited to see what each class decides to do and to see this program continue to grow in our school.
Wondering if anyone out there has any other Great leadership initiatives that I could take to this enthusiastic Grade 5 and 6 group?