Junk Mail Investigation at Mt. Horeb School in Warren

June 21, 2014 at 9:36 PM

WARREN, NJ - When is the last time you opened your mailbox to find it stuffed to the gills with the dreaded “junk mail”? Odds are, it was yesterday.
 At Mt. Horeb School, twelve fourth grade students set forth to investigate this phenomenon during a unit focusing on recycling and its impact on the environment.
Determining nine specific categories, students classified junk mail as unsolicited mail consisting mainly of promotional materials such as coupons and fliers, as well as catalogs and donation requests. Together with their families, each student collected scads of unsolicited mail over the course of six days, the number of days mail is delivered weekly. 
Each day the pile grew as mail was transported to school and sorted in the classroom of their REACH Too! teacher, Wendy Piller.

“Students applied a lot of math skills, as well as analytical thinking and deductive reasoning,” said Piller. The children eagerly weighed the mail to find it amounted to over 23 pounds, the size of a child between ages 12-15 months.
 Based on calculations, if the entire K-5 population participated in this activity, for just one week, there would be over 6,000 pounds of junk mail collected. They also found the landmarks for their data which included the average number of junk mail pieces per household equaled 25. 
Perhaps the greatest impact made was through the visual they created. 
Students decided to line up the mail end to end throughout the hallways of Mt. Horeb School. The sum total was almost 200 yards, which if turned vertical, would be the height of a 6 story building.
Throughout their journey students eagerly used technology to enhance their research. They found that non-recycled paper could take up to 100 years to decompose depending on how dry/cold or moist/warm the climate is. They also learned disconcerting facts about just how full landfills are. “Ultimately, our environment suffers,” the students agreed. 
 Believing every individual can do his or her part to make a positive difference, students encourage all families to either recycle their unwanted mail or sign up to stop unnecessary mail at the following website:
Change begins with awareness and students see that on a daily basis at school with recycling efforts throughout the building of both paper and plastic. Additionally, the Warren Township school district continues to take positive steps towards heading in a more paperless direction. Publications such as Pride in Our Schools and building newsletters are eBlasted.  This method is also used for announcements and fliers, as well as to highlight special school and community events. 
New this fall, the schools will have parents submit paperwork via InfoSnap, an online student information database, which will reduce paper and increase efficiency. As a result of the Strategic Plan and the Communications initiative, this 2013-2014 school year has included more use of social media as a vehicle for information sharing. News articles celebrating Warren Township Schools’ staff and students can be found regularly online at sites such as,,, and
To conclude their project, the fourth graders focused on reusing materials in and around their homes. They planned and constructed different crafts, by recycling and reusing items, without spending a single cent. In the fall, Piller will hold a craft museum so the children can turnkey their learning and educate the younger students in their school.


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