Thursday, September 10, 2015

Recycling Begins at Cooke Elementary School

Jane Sorensen, School District EPIC Coordinator shows off the new cafeteria sorting station
September 10th and Cooke Elementary School's recycling program is off to a good start. Students, teachers and the administration attended an assembly today to kick off the event. Ms. Sondra Johnson Fields, Principal of Cooke welcomed the stakeholders in the initiative: Colleen Emery of Sullivan Renaissance, Christy Walsh of Thompson Sanitation, Evadne Giannini of HospitalityGreen and John Travis, District Director of Facilities.

Draining the milk before tossing it in recycling
For two days students have been learning how to use the new cafeteria sorting station. Evadne, Jane, Sandra, teachers and aids have been working with the students to show them how to use the new station.
The station also features a cart  for uneaten fruit and milk. The "cafeteria sorter" designed by Leo Giannini features a drain for partially used milk, a smiley face with holes for the recycling of milk cartons, plastic containers and unsoiled papers, and a tray stacker for styrofoam trays.

Custodians prep for first day of school
The stacker allows students to stack their trays and has reduced bulky bags of garbage by over 70%. Students "Tip and Tap" their garbage in the Oscar Bin to the right of the sorter and then insert their tray in the stacker. On the first day of school, custodians removed two bags of recyclables, 2 bags of trays and two bags of garbage. Last year with a hundred less children, custodians removed after lunch daily 12-15 bags of garbage and no recycling.
Today at the assembly Ms.Sorensen Coordinator for Cooke's School Recycling Program congratulated students and staff for being chosen to be Sullivan County's model program and led everyone in a pledge.

Our Environmental Pledge

"I pledge by the show of my hand to conserve water, to preserve our endangered species, to reserve our natural resources by recycling, and to share with my fellow citizens the responsibility for a cleaner and greener community."

Watch for daily updates on the school twitter at  #cookepride

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Great Green Hump Day

Everybody needs a good “hump day” once in a while. Yesterday was one of those unforgettable Wednesdays. I had started to get disenchanted in my work as an environmental consultant. What did the work really mean? What was its real value? Granted I am tired of cajoling and fighting with business owners to get them to see the cost savings in conservation. God forbid you mention the environmental benefits.

Business is hard, and we all are so involved in our day to day concerns. Our actions have direct consequences. But do we stop to really care or take concern? When do we look to the outside to evaluate or see the possible ramifications on our future?  “Think of your children.” has become an empty rant repeated in the “green” vernacular.                                       
 It’s been almost 20 years since I stood in a room full of little ones to try and teach them the importance of recycling and conservation.
I went in with full vigor and prepared. To the 3rd and 4th grade we were orienting them to the different kinds of plastics and where and how to find the numbers. We passed out all kinds of plastics and gave them a chance to identify the number on their item. 

Great excitement filled the room as the discoveries were made. We even put a few trick items in our collection. Each child that had caught or gotten an item came to the front and got to put the item in the recycling bin or the trash. We complimented and cheered as the kids figured it out. Then one little boy came up and showed me his item, a bag that had contained dog food. He explained that there was no number on his bag. I, of course, repeated that if it had no number it was to go in the trash. He then said to me, “But it could be reused.”

Stunned, I congratulated him and told him that was excellent. And because he knew that it could be reused; I would give him the item to re-use however he wanted.  Off he went, and we conducted the third assembly of the day with 5th graders, an introduction to composting and reuse. At the end of the 5th grade assembly, we looked up and standing at the door was the little boy, Thomas.  He had something to show us.

What can I say? For all of us “Green folks” who have lost our way or the meaning of why we are doing what we are doing; I promise you, we are doing it for the children. And those adults who can’t seem to figure out the value or the ROI of this “green stuff,” move over, the next generation gets it, and they mean business.

Have a great weekend! It's coming soon.