When you recycle you conserve valuable natural resources. Using recycled materials to make new products saves energy and reduces the amount of air and water emissions produced during the manufacture of new products.
We live in a unique and delicate ecosystem that is continuously threatened by humans. Returning high-quality recycling to redemption centers reduces litter in public places and helps keep our environment healthy and beautiful.
Getting children excited by — and participating in — recycling is vital to California’s (and our planet’s) future. Encouraging best practices now ensures that the next generation will be thoughtful stewards of our natural resources.
Californian’s throw away about 5 pounds of trash per day. Proper recycling keeps valuable material out of the garbage stream and lowers the amount of waste sent to landfills. We all benefit from that!
Setting up recycling is a simple matter of organization and commitment and you can always reach out to your hauler’s recycling coordinator for resources to help you develop a successful program.
Take the initiative and get a program started in your school today by following these five simple steps.
Once you know what will be collected and where, get your custodial staff and groundskeepers involved. Have a meeting to explain to them the importance of recycling and to answer their questions. Show them where to locate new containers, how to collect waste separately, and where to take separated materials.
Once your container, labels, and collection procedures are in place, communicate your program to students and employees.
Host a kick-off party for teachers and administration.
An assembly is a great way to start your program. Then, get students involved by introducing classroom activities about recycling. Have them make posters and instructions to share.
Remember: one presentation is not enough. Be sure to reinforce the goals, principles, and procedures of your program. This will ensure that your procedures are being followed, will help people remain interested, and provide a forum for questions and new solutions. You can also put information or notices in e-mail, on the school’s web site, or in the school newspaper.
Create a system for keeping track of the amount of materials your program collects. This will help you know you’re receiving proper compensation for your materials and will help you take appropriate action if volumes decrease. Be sure to get your custodial staff involved in this process, and develop a feedback system so that they can let you know where contamination is a problem.
It’s important to follow your town or county’s recycling rules, so be sure to check with your hauler to make sure your school is recycling right.
The MRF is an intermediate processing center— sorting mixed recyclables into separate categories: newspaper, cardboard, other mixed papers, glass, steel cans, aluminum cans, PET plastics, HDPE plastics, and more. Once the recyclables are sorted (and compacted into bales), they are then ready to be shipped to businesses to be made into new products.
The MRF is the “middleman” between residents who separate recyclables, and the industries which use recyclable materials to make new products.
The MRF is owned by the Town of Apple Valley and City of Victorville; administered by the Mojave Desert and Mountain Recycling Authority; and operated by Burrtec Waste Industries.
Most schools are required by California law to participate in both recycling and organic recycling (composting).
The California Education and the Environment Initiative (California EEI) Curriculum teaches science and history-social science, using the environment as a context for learning. This engaging curriculum is designed to increase environmental literacy, and help students become critical thinkers, informed decision makers, and leaders for the future. The EEI Curriculum is available to California educators in print and online at no cost.
Source: California EEI
Fun recycling lesson plans teach about the importance of stewardship and conservation and connect to standards in science, math, and reading for grades 1–8. They use the popular 5E lesson plan model, so you know they’re hands on and easy to adapt for your classroom!
This Waste-Free Lunch activity helps students learn how to reduce, reuse, and recycle items in their school lunches. They provide activity instructions and printable materials — everything you need to get your class participating in a waste-free lunch day. Grades 1-8.
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The Mojave Environmental Education Consortium (MEEC) aims to improve the environmental literacy of students, teachers, and communities of the Mojave Desert Region by actively providing educational resources including transportation and mini-grants, and environmental library, curriculum and scholarship information, a speakers’ bureau, and teacher links focused on the High Desert environment.
Closing the Loop is CalRecycle’s interdisciplinary standardized K-6 curriculum emphasizing waste prevention, recycling, composting, and vermicomposting through hands-on activities.
The also offer waste reduction strategies for each department within a School District.
The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Education and the Environmental Initiative (EEI) is a K-12th grade curriculum comprised of 85 units teaching select Science and History-Social Science academic standards. Each EEI Curriculum unit teaches these standards to mastery using a unique set of California environmental principles and concepts.
The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency lists environmental education resources that can be ordered online, by telephone, or downloaded.
The US EPA’s waste education materials includes basic facts, materials and information about composting and recycling, curriculum, activities, awards, and grants.
Be sure to check out their resources for students and educators on reducing, reusing, and recycling.
The CREEC Network, a program of the California Department of Education, fosters regional partnerships throughout the state of California to promote environmental education and environmental literacy by providing teachers with access to high quality professional learning opportunities and education resources.
Composting is an effective and efficient way to dramatically reduce your school’s waste stream , while doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint. Organic material sent to landfill creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to the negative impacts of our changing climate. By making compost, you are creating a valuable soil amendment that you can use to benefit your landscape, boost plant growth and sequester carbon.
Both new and established gardens benefit from the use of compost and mulch. Many schools purchase compost when they initially establish their garden, then they start making their own compost. You can use grass clippings, yard trimmings, rotten vegetables, and in some cases even food scraps from the cafeteria and/or students’ lunches. While some schools choose to make compost piles in the garden, others compost with worm boxes right in the classroom!
Similar to “backyard” or home composting, schools can compost using an enclosed bin or tumbler, in an easily made bunker, or using a no-fuss pile. The key is to blend your feedstocks to achieve a balance of carbon and nitrogen, keep things damp but not saturated, and ensure adequate oxygen deep in the pile. The microbes will do the rest.
Visit our Composting page to learn more about the different methods of composting.
Visit CalRecycle’s Compost page to learn more about composting techniques.
Download The Worm Guide: A Vermicomposting Guide for Teachers from CalRecycle to learn how to start and maintain a successful classroom worm bin. Includes the basics of vermicomposting, worm bin building plans, troubleshooting and fundraising tips, classroom activities, and useful case studies of other successful vermicomposting programs.
Check out CalRecycle’s Worm Facts for more information about Vermicomposting.
Visit our Composting page to learn more about the different methods of composting.
Every time you purchase an eligible beverage container from a retailer in California, you pay a nickel or dime deposit on that container. The California Redemption Value, or CRV, is the deposit return system that allows you to return those empty bottles and cans to a recycling location to get back the deposit you paid.
Collecting your school’s beverage containers and returning them to a redemption center is a great way for kids to learn about the value of recycling and make money for your school.
Glass, aluminum, bimetal and plastic containers including:
TIP: To get the full refund value for your containers, they must be sorted and clean of contaminants. Make sure the containers are dry and clear of any food debris prior to returning them for CRV.
If you have less than 50 containers of one type, your refund will be a nickel or dime (depending on size) for each container. If you bring more than 50 containers of a particular type, your containers are weighed and converted for refund value.
Think about how many beverage containers your school goes through in a day? It could add up to a lot!
You may bring up to 100 pounds of aluminum and plastic or 1,000 pounds of glass on a single visit to a Recycling Center.
To find a certified Recycling Center near you, use the searchable Beverage Container Recycling Centers database from CalRecycle below. You can also visit the CalRecycle website to find it.
Meet Recycle Rex, spokesdinosaur for CalRecycle (Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery). Recycle Rex wants you to “Recycle, reduce, reuse, and close the loop.” Recycling is one of the easiest and best things we can do for planet Earth. Visit the RecycleRex.com website for activities, brochures and program ideas for kids.