With more than 422,000 pounds of trash recycled from Bartow County Schools and Cartersville City Schools in the 2012-2013 school year, the Keep Bartow Beautiful school recycling program celebrated a milestone this year marking a cumulative total of 1,000 tons of trash diverted from the landfill since the program’s inception.
“It was a very successful year, we were really pleased,” said Bartow County Environmental Division Head Sheri Henshaw. “A lot of schools really picked up the pace and have done a lot more. Everyone is to be commended, but some just have such a great system that they work hard every day going at it wide open and I think this year brings us to more than 1,000 tons of recycling.
“The 2005-2006 school year is the year we started the contest, but of course we didn’t have all 25 schools involved, it took us 10 years to get all 25 up and running and to get the infrastructure in place to make it work. Now, the volunteer efforts have taken off at various degrees from there.”
Although sponsored by Keep Bartow Beautiful, the volunteer recycling program is tooled and structured differently at every school with students, faculty and staff making the program their own.
From food service workers to maintenance staff and concession stand volunteers, schools across the county have helped instill the practice of recycling on young minds. While there remains an obvious tie to ecological matters, Henshaw reminds others that reducing the burden on the Bartow County Landfill will ultimately save taxpayer money and diverting those items to be recycled can have an often overlooked economic advantage in the manufacturing cycle.
“I think the importance of the program is to realize that the simplest things can make a huge difference and the fact that you do something over and over consistently, just like brushing your teeth, saves money and prevents problems in the future,” Henshaw said. “It’s the same with the basic principles of being a good citizen. Every time you recycle something and if you do it consistently, instead of all that going to our landfill and filling up space, which we then have to spend millions of tax dollars to build a new cell in the landfill, it can instead be put back into the manufacturing cycle. A cycle is always more vibrant and healthier because it feeds back into a system. There are thousands of manufacturing jobs in Georgia based on the recycling and repurposing of recycled materials.
“Everything we do creates systems that save money and create jobs and that’s what we’re teaching kids in the simplest way as early as we can.”
The contest is broken into two divisions, elementary schools and middle and high schools. Euharlee Elementary took the elementary school division with 89,800 pounds of recycling, which totals 148.7 pounds per student. For their efforts, the school will receive a school-wide presentation from Wildlife Wonders.
In the middle and high school division, Cass Middle won first place with 45,210 pounds, totaling 44 pounds per student. Cass Middle will receive a $500 cash prize.
“We just have a great group of kids,” said Cass Middle Principal Kristy Arnold. “Our head custodian and one of my assistant principals heads up our recycling program. Instead of just throwing away the recycling when the bin gets full, we save it and wait and we even have a group of parents that come in and do all their recycling at the school. The kids have kind of just become trained and they do it, the adults really don’t have to do much anymore. The kids know we have recycling bins in the hallways and every morning, we have a core group of kids that take it out every single morning.
“It’s teaching them a responsibility not just to themselves, but to others and to the community. They’re able to contribute in a small way and that small way within our school really does help the entire community.”
Rounding out the top three in the elementary school division was Mission Road Elementary coming in second place with 36,560 pounds, or 74.3 pounds per student, receiving a prize of $300; and third place was Adairsville Elementary with 30,420 pounds of recycling, or 46.7 pounds per student, receiving a $200 prize.
In the middle and high school division, second place went to Adairsville Middle with 22,680 pounds of recycling, or 30.65 pounds per student, receiving $300; and South Central Middle School won the third place prize of $200 with 13,580 pounds, or 20.1 pounds per student.
For more information, visit www.bartowga.org/kbb.