Trash Contest Inspires Kids to Spread the Green Word

School kids at lunch

Photo credit: Tamra Hays

It began as a contest to reduce trash among sixth-grade classrooms in Boston's Mill Pond School, but now kids, parents, and teachers alike are rethinking the role of waste in their lives.

In late April, 200 sixth-graders from six classes signed up to compete to produce the least amount of garbage. The winners managed to throw out a mere one-third of what their class previously discarded by recycling and composting the rest.

"My hope is a lot of these habits will stick and hopefully last forever," says Brooke Hauser, the science and world geography teacher who came up with "Trim Your Trash" in the first place. "We can all take action and we can all make a difference even if we start small."Now, one parent has volunteered to study how much cafeteria food is thrown away by students in order to figure out how to reduce waste. The Student Council has also volunteered to pay for hand dryers, using donations from parents and community members, in the sixth-grade bathrooms to cut down on paper-towel waste.

"It can be a little something that can make a big difference," says Student Council adviser Sheila Labriola, a sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher. "It just trickles down," she said. "Who's to say it's not going to become a great thing that will be vetted throughout the school?"

Hauser has managed to get students conserving by changing some everyday habits, such as using both sides of a sheet of paper, saving outdated fliers in a scrap drawer for reuse, placing food scraps in a compost bin behind the school, as well as collecting bottles and cans for recycling.

"We've been digging in the trash to pull out the garbage" that can be recycled, says 12-year-old Katherine Nazzaro, who made a thank-you note for the principal out of recycled school notices. "I kind of hope it won't just end this year, and even in 50 years when Miss Hauser retires," she said, "I still want people to continue the Green Team."

One other positive side effect this contest has had: Improving the kids' diets. "We're all bringing in fruits and vegetables instead of junk," Katherine said.

From the mouths of babes. :: The Boston Globe

[via SustainLane]

See also: :: Australian Study Shows Kids Increasingly Anxious About Planet, :: Convenient Truth Contest: Green Kids, and :: Fewer Trash Collections, More Recycling

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