Schools help to shape the habits that we continue as adults. Students who participate in recycling now will have more of an incentive to carry on this “habit” as adults. We learn as children the benefits of recycling, how easy it is to recycle with the right system in place, and the concrete actions we can take to protect our planet. The recycling “habit” developed in school can serve to transform our communities, our jobs, our nation as we recycle more and more of the products we consume, and the resources used to manufacture them.
When schools recycle they help to reduce fossil fuel usage, conserve resources, and help to create local jobs. Schools help to set an example, a legacy, which children learn to admire, and to emulate.
Many schools simply lack that “passionate advocate” to get recycling started in the school. Recycling success depends on a dedicated individual or team to plan, develop, and implement the program. A school recycling advocate can be a teacher, student, administrator, or parent. Passion for recycling can spread quickly resulting in recycling becoming an efficient and normal part of the school routine; however, the spark to get the school to begin recycling is essential. Since the GCS Energy Conservation Program began in 2009, there has been a goal to have Green Team representatives in each building promoting recycling and other sustainability goals related to the environment.
Years ago, when most of our elementary school buildings were built, recycling was not common and space for a recycling dumpster was not taken into consideration in the design of the campus. This limitation has not stopped the GCS Green Team representatives!
Recycling Efforts Leads to Green Teams
- Chandler was the first elementary school to provide recycling and was initiated and financed by the PTO, championed at that time by School Counselor, Leon Bauman.
- When Prairie View was built space was provided for a large recycling bin, with the program that involved students, overseen by School Counselor, Marge Gingerich.
- West Goshen’s recycling program came onboard next when school nurse Elisabeth Vukovich. With a grant for a start-up recycling program and no space for a large recycling dumpster, she organized 96-gallon wheeled recycling carts lined up against the building for recycling pick-up.
- This sparked interest in the other Green Team members representing the remaining elementary schools. Each building representative is committed to engaging students in the process and oversees the recycling program in their building:
- Chamberlain, initiated by the teacher, Carol Kinchen;
- Parkside Teacher, Marci Scales;
- Waterford School Counselor, Allison Stiffney;
- Model Teacher, Emily Shenk;
- Merit Learning Center, Teacher Laurina Graber;
- GJHS Teacher, Taylar McKinley.
- GIS is fortunate to have STEM teacher, Andrew Kauffman to engage students in green initiatives in the future.
- At GHS there is a large recycling dumpster supported by the custodians and cafeteria staff. GHS has various active green activities in their science curriculum such as tree planting, butterfly garden, and composting project supported by students and Teacher Alison Gotwals.
- Administration Office – Judy Miller, Tim Drescher and Megan Eichorn
As a result of Green Team representatives each started programs in their own buildings, the cost of the recycling pick-up transitioned to be supported and included in our district’s general budget. Collectively, these programs share a part of GCS’s success in achieving the Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Award in 2019. GCS was the only public school district in Indiana to achieve the award that year.