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Greenbelt Elementary School Joins Recycling Initiative

Luisa Robles at Greenbelt Elementary School


By Li’l Dan Celdran, GES parent

On Wednesday, December 3 Greenbelt Elementary School hosted an assembly for all its students and staff regarding its new recycling program. Dr. Luisa Robles, Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Greenbelt, shared information with us on the items that can be recycled at GES.  Dr. Robles set up tables with colored tablecloths indicating which items can be recycled and which cannot. On the “green” table were items such as plastic cups, foil cooking pans, and aluminum soda pop/beverage cans. On the “red” table were items such as drinking glasses, ceramic mugs, “clamshell” plastic containers (the ones that open and close like clams),  and breakfast and lunch Styrofoam trays. The “blue” colored table showcased items that could be taken to the electronic recycling: cell phones, cameras, batteries – just be sure to tape the ends of the batteries first! The next electronics recycling is scheduled for  Saturday,  January 24th from 9am-noon at Greenbelt Public Works Department near Buddy Attick Park.

Students asked wonderful questions such as: Can light bulbs be recycled? Dr. Robles discussed the differences between incandescent (the kind that get hot), which cannot be recycled, and the Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs), which can be recycled.

The school’s Parent Teacher Association has voted to purchase more recycling bins for classrooms and the cafeteria. Students and school staff will place recyclables into the classroom bins. Students will then deposit the recyclables  into a larger bin (with wheels). Once full, it will be emptied into the recycling dumpster outside by the custodial staff.

Click here to see what the school will be recycling.

Reusing and repurposing

Dr. Robles also discussed how reusing items such as Styrofoam trays to hold paint and donating clothes that no longer fit to the thrift store keeps our planet cleaner.  Instead of these items ending up in the landfill, they can be reused for other purposes – repurposed.

A lesson in food waste

Dr. Robles mentioned how composting is similar to recycling: food scraps from fruits and vegetables can be made into compost instead of being thrown in the trash.  Not only can compost for one’s garden be made; the use of trash bags will be reduced. Currently there is no composting program at GES.  However, in cooperation with the administration and teachers, a few parents have been collecting fruit scraps from breakfast and bringing it home to their own compost bin. Dr. Robles offered help to students’ families if they wish to learn more about how to compost at home.

The school has applied for a grant to purchase compost tumblers for their courtyard garden. A newly created “Green Team” club, headed by science teacher, Mr. Gallo, will help form a plan for getting the compost-ables from various points (classroom and cafeteria) to the bins in the courtyard. The club will also host activities like nature walks, recycling, and trash pickup around the school.

The future

A task group is currently being created of parents, school staff and community members to discuss gardens, sustainability, and landscaping.  Recycling, composting and gardening are interconnected and the lessons learned from participation are life-long. There are many opportunities to teach our children how to take care of our school, community and our planet.

Beatrice Sanders, GES school secretary, contributed to this report.
Editor’s Note:  Absent parental permission to show photos of their children here, soccer balls were placed over their faces.  The editor thinks it’s a hoot!

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog weekly at GardenRant.com.

  1. Pam J.
    | Reply

    Love those soccer balls!

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