Point Road School’s Green Team, an organization that brings together 3rd and 4th graders in the pursuit of giving the school a smaller carbon footprint, convened for their Feb. meeting on Wednesday the 9th.
The day’s lesson plan was presented by Susan Murray who is not only a parent of one of the Green Team student members, but a representative of WasteNot Solutions, a Little Silver company committed to the reduction of solid waste expenses for their clients. Murray led a discussion about what a carbon footprint is; the total carbon dioxide amount left behind by an individual or organization.
Murray also discussed how carbon dioxide spurs on the Greenhouse Effect in the Earth’s atmosphere, a major contributor to climate change issues. The children in the group took out laptop computers and, with the aid of a website, calculated what their individual carbon footprints might be, and found out ways to reduce them.
Murray discussed how she came to be the lead of the Green Team initiative: “I had wanted to do something… It all came together kind of as the perfect storm of people coming to Pam [Albert, Principal of Point Road School] saying, how about a green team? How about an environmental group? From my work – I work in the waste industry and recycling, and I said that I’d love to do something with the kids after school. Jim Brown, [from the Monmouth County Recycling Office] had approached her, and it just came about.”
Albert is proud of the forward momentum of the group, but admits it was not solely planned by the school and outside forces. “The club itself was started by request of a few of our fourth-grade students,” Albert said.
One of the initial efforts between the team and the township directly involved the “reuse” part of the ecological equation, specifically, a way to reduce empty plastic water bottles by promoting refilling strong stainless steel ones. “We’re a part of the Sustainable Jersey initiative,” Murray continued. “What happened was, I was involved with this, then Rosemary Brewer from our town’s environmental commission had some Clean Community grant money, and we ended up purchasing stainless steel water bottles for the whole school system. We had a logo design contest, and our Green Team helped implement that.”
Principal Pamela Albert explained the school’s commitment to recycling starts in every room on the property. “All the classrooms, all the rooms in the building, have [cans for] regular garbage, glass and paper, in separate containers, and they’re all labeled. That’s another thing the Green Team did: they labeled all of the containers.”
The program supports recycling goals inside the school, as several recycling containers around the property and in the all-purpose room indicate, but also invites the participants to make efforts and changes at home.
The team also sorted through the recyclables that were collected inside the school. Bottle caps and foil chip bags were sorted and packaged under the watch of Jackie Mery, a parent-volunteer whose daughter also attends the Green Team meetings.
“We recycle Ziploc plastic bags, chip wrappers, cookie wrappers, plastic tops from bottles, and we’re just starting with soda cans,” Albert said. The cap-recycling program was initiated by Aveda Hair Care and Beauty Products and has now integrated into over 1,600 schools. The other recyclables are in conjunction with TerraCycle, which “upcycles” the items into new products. The school will receive two cents for every item sent to TerraCycle.
Other initiatives the students have taken on include the Earth Day Grocery Bag Project, in conjunction with Sickles Market off of Rumson Rd., where the children decorated brown paper bags to bring awareness to the value of choosing “paper, not plastic.” A Field Day clean-up crew volunteers to collect trash and refuse off the school grounds after outdoor activities, and a No-Idling campaign was presented to parents to minimize car emissions while they waited in their vehicles.
The enthusiasm of the team was evident as they tore through boxes of plastic bottle tops and lids, sorting for ones that fit the criteria and separating the ones that don’t. Thin grades of plastic, found on containers for yogurt, sour cream and margarine are not accepted, as aren’t childproof safety caps from medicine bottles. The locks beneath the caps are made of a heavier grade of plastic that cannot be easily reused in another form.
“We have twenty-five really committed environmentalists,” Principal Albert said. “They’re really pretty neat kids.”
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