Helping the Earth a Little Bit at a Time

Ripple Rock Raven Recyclers

Ripple Rock Elementary
  • Grade 5
Video Project (1 video)

Community Coach(es): 

Elaine Jensen and Cumberland Landfill

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When my colleague and I saw the email about the Green Games, we immediately decided that this is something we wanted to implement in our classrooms. We joined our classes to make buddy groups and began our project by introducing our students to “The Green Games”. We told them what is was about and explored the website together. Students watched and looked at previous submissions, checked out the prizes and then had time to discuss possibilities for our project with their buddies.

There were many wonderful ideas. Students were already somewhat aware about recycling in our school, so that was a big theme during our larger group discussion. As a group, we decided we wanted to make an impact locally, here in our school by implementing a more extensive recycling program and promoting waste reduction. We decided that our recycling should now include different types of plastic (not blue box materials), markers and making sure other classes were aware of how and what to recycle properly.

For our waste reduction component, we began by doing a garbage audit. We collected five days’ worth of garbage and stored it for a week. To begin the audit, we weighed the garbage and the initial weight was 25 pounds. Students then sorted each bag into four different corners of a tarp – re-use/re-think, recycle, compost and waste. Once the sort was completed, we re-weighed the waste and the total was 5 pounds. This was very impactful for the students and generated a lot of ideas about how we could reduce waste in our classrooms and our school. The ideas students came up with to reduce waste included; classroom composting, making re-usable sandwich bags, being more thoughtful about what we consume and being more careful about what we recycle.

We contacted our local compost education center and had Elaine Jensen come in to show us how to set up a worm composting bin in our class. Buddy groups then created their own mini worm bins in jars to practice the process. We now have a working worm composter in our class.

The next big project was to organize the making of the re-usable bags. We put a request to parents to help volunteer to make 52 reusable sandwich bags! Over two afternoons, we rotated groups through stations that included sewing re-usable bags, coming up with a script to deliver recycling information to other classes, watching relevant videos and discussing and crafting with reusable materials.

The scripts students came up with were used the following week to present to all other classes in the school. Each class received a laminated poster to pin above their recycling bins as well as presentation about the things we can recycle in our blue bins. Students also communicated the importance of recycling.

We were very lucky to be presented with a wonderful opportunity to visit our new local landfill site in Cumberland. Before the tour, we watched some videos about the new facility and had a conversation with the facilitator about the information students needed to have before going to the landfill. This tour included a bus stop at each of the sites at the landfill. Students were able to see the recycling depot, the compost site, the mattress recycling site, the appliance recycling site, the recreational vehicle recycling site, the old landfill, the new landfill and the leachate treatment facility. We had a guide on the bus with us to describe what happened at each site and to answer any questions. At the end of the tour, students played a fun and active recycling game. This tour gave students a very good understanding of where our garbage goes and the importance of reducing our impact.

This project has had a huge impact on our classrooms and our school. Our compost is used daily and we will continue to recycle our “soft and stretchy/hard and crunchy” plastic and take all our used markers to our recycling station at Staples. Students regularly use their reusable sandwich bags and/or rinse our plastic ziplock bags to be taken home and used again. Other classes in our school bring their used markers to our rooms to the recycling containers and they are also starting to recycle things that were previously being thrown in the garbage such as plastic fruit cups, yogurt containers and milk cartons. This learning has spilled over into the home lives of children and they are educating their families about all the different things we can recycle. We have even had requests from parents for information about how to build a worm bin for their home!

Our plan is to carry on to the end of the year with our recycling/waste reduction and nature education program even after we submit our project. We have plans to visit some local forest trails, go to the Fanny Bay Marine Center, and regularly explore and learn about the native species that grow in the forest around our school.

This project has had a huge impact on the lives of the kids in our classes. They are more thoughtful about what they are throwing away and eager to share their learning with others.

Elementary School Winner
Green Grants