By Marcia Booth
Students at Merritt Island High School worked with teacher Teresa Nick to improve recycling at the school.
Senior Life Photo
Last September, I received an email from Steve Hatchcock, the head custodian at Merritt Island High School. They were looking for bins to collect recyclables in the classrooms.
The school had opted out from single-stream recycling and would be recycling only paper and cardboard on campus.
Teresa Nick, an environmental science and biology teacher who sponsors the school’s Earth Club, wanted to keep collecting other recyclables and needed bins to keep everything else separate from the paper and cardboard. Those were the only items that would be going in the classroom bins per school instructions.
I was able to provide her with 22 green 14-gallon bins that she could keep for as long as they are needed to be used strictly for recycling.
After dropping off the bins to Hatchcock, I met with Nick. She needed signs to inform everyone of what was being collected, what was recyclable and what could be placed in the green bins.
According to Charlie McMahon, the energy conservation specialist at Brevard Public Schools, school recycling dumpsters can be used for single-stream recycling as long as only acceptable items are placed in the dumpster and there is no contamination. That means that the recyclables Nick collects can go straight into the recycling dumpster.
In a meeting with MIHS Principal James Rehmer, who kindly agreed to see me without an appointment, I received the OK to work on a campaign to raise awareness about recycling. We also would concentrate on reducing campus litter and single-use plastic bottles.
That was when Love Your Campus came to be. With the focus on the three Rs, we have been working with MIHS to Reduce Litter, Reuse Bottles and Recycle Better. The campaign was launched Feb. 1 and ran until March 1. Students, teachers and staff have been working together to improve in all three areas.
Earth Club students have been involved in creating infomercials, hanging signs, making banners, manning the cafeteria recycle bin and collecting recyclables from the classrooms. Teachers received the signs, are recycling in their classrooms and using the signs to help identify what goes in the bin. Custodians, such as Tyrone Smith, provided the blue bin by the cafeteria and gave support during lunch.
Recycle Brevard is all in with this campaign by not only providing the green bins and signs, but also bringing a trivia game to help students recognize what can be recycled on campus. In just two weeks, there was a 63 percent increase in participation in the game. It is hoped that intervention pays off and shows its effects in the recycle bins on campus.
On Feb. 8, with help from our friend Elizabeth Baker from I Pick Up Litter, 17 students joined us and Nick for a campus cleanup. We were happy to work together and remove litter from school grounds.
Students do care and Nick hopes that the campaign results in “more awareness and education among young people on how to properly dispose of waste and, hopefully, promote the use of less single-use plastic.”
And, she pleads for everyone to “be mindful of your daily actions; they have a direct impact on our environment.”
Recycle Brevard would like to support teachers such as Nick and schools such as MIHS, which are making recycling better in Brevard. If your school is interested in our Love Your Campus campaign, please contact us. SL
Email Marcia Booth at Marcia@