This project began in 2014 when a group of students recognized the huge amount of paper waste created by students and faculty. To address the problem, they led an awareness campaign within the school and collaborated with city and county officials. The students petitioned Nucor-Yamato Steele for a $250 grant to purchase large recycle bins to go in our high school for paper collection. EAST students hauled collections to the recycling trailer in town weekly.
The initial student group graduated, but another group chose to continue and expand the project. After much brainstorming the group realized that the key to higher participation in recycling efforts was to educate students at a young age. They met with elementary administration and decided to kick things off with an awareness assembly and competition between classes.
EAST students collected copy paper boxes to make bins for the elementary classrooms. They also secured a $1,500 grant from Mississippi County to provide individual collection bins for each classroom on the high school campus, as well as our elementary and middle school campuses.
While EAST students currently collect daily from recycling bins and transfer to the city’s Go Green recycling trailer, a pitch to the county judge has put our school district in line to receive a recycling trailer placed on our campus, which would eliminate the need to transport recycling off campus.
In 2016, we introduced plastic bottle collection and now have a group that has chosen to repurpose those bottles to design and construct a greenhouse to cover the raised bed planters that the Environmental Science class has built. We have also incorporated another group of EAST students who are planning to have an elementary Repurposed Craft Competition. They will use iPads to let elementary students research why recycling and/or repurposing is important to our environment, and then ultimately have each child create a unique “Creature Planter.” Future plans include using recycled materials to set up a rainwater capture and irrigation system.