Friday, March 23, 2012

Dingeman Elementary Students Cutting Trash Output

Recycle group shot
The Green Team.
If you notice a third grader at Dingeman Elementary School rummaging through a trash can, don't be alarmed. He's probably just part of the school's Ecology Academy, which has helped triple the school's recycling since September.
Lead by teacher Sara Church and Janet Whited, the district's rubbish and recycling specialist, the school's Green Team has been making steady progress and at the same time educating the rest of the campus on how to cut down on waste.

"The kids are really cool about this and they look at themselves as ambassadors," said Church. "If they see someone putting the wrong items in the trash or in recycling, they will politely ask them to put them in the right place."

After researching that the average person can generate as much as four pounds of trash a day, the students were inspired to not only reduce that number for the school, but to save it money. The district's waste contract allows free recycling bins and pickup as needed but trash dumpsters are charged. The students inspected trash cans in each classroom for several days to determine what was going where.

Among their recycling ideas are to cut down on disposal of plastic water bottles by encouraging use of the old-fashioned drinking fountains at the school. They're researching whether filters can be put on the fountains and whether reusable metal bottles can replace plastic.

The school has an innovative program where the third grade teachers get to "teach their passion" each week, said Church. Other subjects include music, science, and world peace. Students can choose their subject and are pooled with kids from other classes.

At the school's upcoming Spring carnival, scheduled for April 29, the Green Team will be out in force, having a booth with recycling ideas as well as helping with recycling at the event.

In the meantime, the Green Team members, back in their home classrooms, are competing to see which third grade class can recycle the best and coming up with new ideas to save the world.

For more information, contact Church at and Whited at