EAST BERNSTADT, KY — Hazel Green Elementary School students made money for their school while learning about recycling. Their project also earned the PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award.
For two weeks in December, students were encouraged to save every piece of plastic used in their homes, such as water bottles and liquid soap containers. They brought the plastic to school to be recycled. Fourth and fifth-grade math students added up the ounces on the plastic containers. They converted the ounces to gallons — which came to 192.45 gallons. Then, they figured out the equivalent number of 16-ounce plastic water bottles, for a visual effect.
“If you can picture 1,539 plastic water bottles, that’s how much plastic Hazel Green students collected in their homes in just two weeks,” said PRIDE’s Mark Davis, who presented the award Friday. “That’s the same as 64 of those 24-bottle cases of bottle water. Congratulations on such a successful effort.”
“It was an eye-opener to learn how many bottles that we kept out of the landfill,” said Principal Brad Mullins. “When I announced the results, it was a light-bulb moment for the kids.”
“Our kids loved this project,” Mullins said. “There was more interest in it than I thought there would be. Some kids brought in big garbage bags filled with plastic bottles.”
“Students are aware that anything that was brought in, ultimately, made money for their school,” added Bianca Hawkins, AmeriCorps/Operation UNITE tutor at Hazel Green Elementary. She organized the recycling project.
Hazel Green was paid for the plastic through the London Regional Recycling Center’s incentive program for local schools. The center places recycling bins at all schools in Laurel County and picks them up regularly. The center weighs the bins and tracks how much each school recycles. At the end of the quarter, each school receives a check for the value of its recyclables. Since 2008, the center has paid $27,432 into the classroom funds of local schools.
Hazel Green held its own fundraiser during its two-week recycling project. Students sold reusable aluminum water bottles to raise money for the school’s environmental education activities. The money will pay for recycling bins in all classrooms, as well as supplies for the school’s garden and greenhouse, which was purchased with a PRIDE grant this year.
“We are hoping that this will be a wakeup call for those families who do not recycle in their homes to start doing so,” Hawkins said. “Some of the teachers who didn’t recycle before are now recycling at school and at home.”
“This project went so well, we plan to continue recycling at Hazel Green,” Mullins said. “I invite parents to bring their recyclables here. It will earn money for our school.”
“Hazel Green is finally ‘going green,’” Mullins joked.
The PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award rewards creative, effective ways of promoting environmental awareness and stewardship. PRIDE presents one award each month to a school within the 42 counties of southern and eastern Kentucky.
Follow PRIDE online at www.facebook.com/
Learn more about the London Regional Recycling Center, including its incentive program for schools, at http://cityoflondonky.org/