ROXBURY, NJ - Nov.15 was National Recycling Day and many Roxbury students attended assemblies dedicated to the topic. Franklin, Jefferson and Kennedy experienced an assembly with Bill Kerwood on reducing, reusing, and recycling while Nixon will see it next Tuesday.
Recycling is not just for the elementary schools. Eisenhower Middle School was treated to a "Kids Going Green" assembly on Friday by Michele VanAllen. Roxbury’s Clean Communities program funded the assemblies for Roxbury students.
Clean Communities is a comprehensive litter abatement program serving New Jersey residents for over 25 years. Its basic mission is to reduce litter in public places, promote the volunteer cleanup of public lands and sustain a reduction in litter through education.
VanAllen stated numerous times throughout the presentation that “Earth Day should be every day.” Dealing with older students, VanAllen was able to give more scientific descriptions of why it is so important to recycle. She touched on greenhouse gases, carbon footprints, climate change, the atmosphere and how doing small things add up to big change.
VanAllen gave students easy tips on how they can make changes in school and at home. One tip was switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFL or LEDs and recycling the old ones at Home Depot. Students saw this switch take place in their schools over the past year as the district did a lighting upgrade to LEDs to help save money and the environment.
Other tips she mentioned dealt with clothing and shoes and how the three R’s can pertain to those as well. One item she noted were shoes. She encouraged the students to donate good condition shoes to a thrift shop or social services. If the shoes are too far-gone, they can be given to Nike, which has a campaign that has collected more than 32 million pairs since the 1990s. The program collects old, worn-out athletic shoes for recycling and transforms them into Nike Grind, a material used to create athletic and playground surfaces and more.
According to Kellie Ann Keyes, Roxbury’s Clean Communities coordinator, “VanAllen didn’t mention it in this assembly but has in others that H&M clothing stores also collects and recycles clothing.” H&M’s initiative began in 2013 worldwide. Its campaign allows you to drop off unwanted garments, no matter what brand or condition, at any of their stores across the globe.
H&M also believes in the three R’s. For clothes that can be re-worn, they are sold as second hand clothes. For old clothes and textiles, they can be reused into other products such as cleaning cloths and everything else is recycled and turned into textile fibers and used in things like insulation.
VanAllen was impressed by the efforts EMS has begun in recycling at the school but she noted much more can be done.
At the end of the presentation, EMS Assistant Principal Elizabeth Omegna pointed out EMS is composting lunch scraps, building a greenhouse to grow a garden and has installed new water bottle filling stations.
Roxbury Schools have been working for the past few years on earning Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification at each building and at the district level. As part of that process, the district has been working with Keyes and Chris Vidal from the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority to assess where the schools are in the process. Beginning at the elementary schools, Keyes and Vidal have been conducting building audits.
Joe Mondanaro, the district assistant business administrator and Sustainable Jersey for Schools liaison for Roxbury, joined them at Franklin School on Friday afternoon to see how the schools are recycling and what receptacles are being used. All of these efforts will be a culmination of points for Sustainable Jersey for Schools and will also assist Roxbury in learning how to be more green and to decrease our carbon footprint.
As VanAllen stated the students, “You will grow up to inherit this planet and small things you do can add up to big changes.”