Improve recycling in our schools

Dear Editor:

Today our school systems are very focused on academics, athletics, and social development; but what about environmental consciousness. While we do our part by recycling cans, cardboard, and paper, how effective are these programs, and are there enough recycling resources available to our students?

A lack of recycling is not only harmful to the environment, but also to our students’ development in becoming a sustainable generation. When the proper recycling resources are not available to students we are contradicting the environmental lessons that are being taught in the classroom: because what is being taught to our students isn’t being put into action.

According to the Department of Public Works, nearly half of all garbage produced by a school is created during the lunch period, expending on average 1000 milk cartons per week. That’s 40,000 milk cartons produced each school year that rather than being thrown away could be recycled.

By having a milk carton recycling program throughout the school district we will be able to conserve our resources. We can stop on average 300 bags of trash being sent to the landfill every year by recycling milk cartons, as well as reducing water contamination and the release of greenhouse gases.  According to the Carton Council, at a school of 500 students we can preserve 14 trees, 6000 gallons of water, and 170,000 sheets of paper every school year  by recycling milk cartons alone. Milk carton recycling will be able to get the students more involved in the recycling at the school and they will be able to bring these skills to their homes and have recycling become a lifestyle to create a generational change.

Milk carton recycling programs have been successful at many other schools giving proof that this is a feasible program to develop. Especially because it will require no extra time from staff, and very little money to start the program. Therefore, I think that this could be an easy, affordable next step in order to improve the recycling in our school district.

Alicia Smith

Chemistry Major, Gustavus Adolphus College

2011 graduate of Cambridge-Isanti High School