2020
The Recycling Education Project

The King George Earth Club

King George Secondary
  • Mixed Secondary School Grades
Photo Essay (3–10 images)

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For this year's BC Green Games, the King George Earth Club chose to create a recycling education program, focused on eliminating recycling contamination. Recycling Contamination is when nonrecyclables are mixed up with recyclables, causing both of the items to be thrown in the landfill. This happens quite frequently in schools, as there is no practical way to sort through all the trash. Recycling contamination is not a new thing and is one of the main reasons why 86 percent of plastics in Canada are not recycled (Young). Recycling Contamination is a big issue, but it primarily happens because of two reasons, Aspiration Recycling, and not knowing where an item goes. Aspiration Recycling is when a person doesn't know where an item goes, so they recycle it because it feels like the right thing to do. People who fall victim to Aspiration Recycling want to do the right thing, but a lot of the time, throwing an item out is the best course of action. In our school, recycling often falls victim to Recycling Contamination. We felt that this was an issue we had to tackle in our school to try and improve our community and produce less waste. However, we also felt that educating our peers would not be sufficient, as it would not translate over for future grades. Because of this, we decided to create a recycling education program dedicated to elementary school children from grades 4-7. 
 
After giving a crash course on everything recyclable, the students were quickly put to the test through games and activities to test if they understood the message. The games had tricky questions that required critical thinking to solve. Our members helped engage the students and made sure that everyone was following the topic, as recycling can be difficult and complicated. The main message that the club attempted to communicate was simple when in doubt, throw it out. This slogan is often what recycling companies have started to preach, as recycling nonrecyclables is often more harmful. 
 
We believe that the Recycling Contamination education program has been incredibly successful and has been able to educate the younger students on how to recycle correctly. Tyrel Meredith, a Lord Roberts Elementary school teacher, reported that our presentation was "informative, interactive and fun" and that the club "did an amazing job helping us improve our recycling habits" ("Recycling Contamination Presentation."). We plan to do future recycling education with Mr. Meredith in the following years, to inform his future classes on how to recycle correctly. The project has not only taught the younger students how to recycle correctly, but it taught us too. Most of us did not know all of the rules and guidelines surrounding recycling, let alone Recycling Contamination. The project has enabled us to understand better what our waste does to the environment, and better our community through our understanding.
 
 
"Recycling Contamination Presentation." Message to Tyrel Meredith. 28 Feb. 2020. E-mail.
 
Young, Rachelle. "Canada's Plastic Problem: Sorting Fact from Fiction." Oceana Canada, 25 
Oct. 2019, oceana.ca/en/blog/canadas-plastic-problem-sorting-fact-fiction.