At China Middle School, recycling has been a long standing tradition. It began over 15 years ago and the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG) program has been facilitating recycling since the inception. Each week JMG students travel around the school with a large recycling container to collect paper, magazines, cardboard and returnables. Over the past 15 years, we have seen the numerous benefits that come from having a recycling program at CMS.
First, it gives JMG students a work-like responsibility within a team structure. Students recycle in small groups, which allows them the opportunity to work on team-skills with peers, while also providing the chance to practice communication and interaction with teachers and staff. Learning how to work in a team environment is a critically important lifelong skill that students get to have while recycling.
Second, students practice professionalism while recycling. There are high expectations when moving around the building. They must focus on being as quiet as possible, not to disturb classrooms as they stop in to collect containers. Students also pay close attention to what type of recycling is in each container. They must quickly sort through the container so that the paper, magazines, and cardboard are placed into the correct bin and then brought to the transfer site.
Lastly, and the biggest reason why we recycle, is to help the environment. The more we recycle, the less that goes into a landfill, and the more that can be remade into reusable products. With recycling containers in all classrooms and in many other locations, students and staff can always find a container to put their recyclables. Setting the example of recycling for our students and staff, and instilling lifelong positive habits, all contribute in us being good stewards of our environment and planet. Eighth grader Colby Willey stated that, “I enjoy recycling because it is a fun project that gets us moving around the school and is really helpful for our environment.”
During the months of March and April, we will be measuring the weight of the paper, cardboard, and magazines recycled weekly. The goal is to get an approximate average weight of recyclables each week. The Town of China saves money when recyclables are recycled instead of being thrown in the trash “hopper,” as the Town must pay for the trash to be hauled to a landfill. Our ultimate goal through doing this is to get an idea of how much CMS is contributing to China’s recycling program.
We are thrilled and thankful that the Natural Resources Council of Maine has chosen China Middle School as a grant recipient this year. It will have a very positive impact on our recycling program and will also contribute to its further successes. Each year we wrap cardboard boxes with colored paper and label them. After doing this, it only takes a couple of months before the boxes start to break apart and the paper begins to rip off, which leave them looking unprofessional. Our plan with the grant funding is to purchase new, plastic, recycling-specific containers that will look professional and be sturdy for the long haul. We look forward to continuing this incredible project and showing our progress in the coming weeks!
—Ryan Sweeney, JMG Teacher, China Middle School
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