Recycling: A Lesson in Teamwork

Students and staff throughout the School at Springbrook work together for a common goal: to help the environment by recycling. Recyclables, including plastic bottles, aluminum cans, paper and cardboard have been gathered on the main campus and processed by students since January 2008. Shredded office paper is used to enrich the soil in the gardens at the school, while non-returnable cans and bottles, along with cardboard, are driven to a local recycling center where they are sorted into the appropriate bins by three students.

Returnable plastic bottles and aluminum cans are gathered in bins and baskets in classrooms, offices and the employee lounge to be picked up by a group of students for processing. Back in the classroom, bottle caps and can tabs are removed and the returnables are washed, dried and sorted. The can tabs are saved for a charity, and the bottles and cans are returned to a redemption center by two students. The items are fed into a machine and a receipt is printed at the push of a button, then cashed in for well-deserved money to be used by the classroom. Every step along the way presents an opportunity for growth and learning from the coordination of motor skills, visual comprehension and sorting to an understanding of money and the concept of teamwork.

Since the program started, it is estimated that over one half ton of cardboard and over one ton of paper, such as catalogues and business mail, have been recycled. More than 6,000 cans and bottles have been returned to redemption centers, thirty bags of shredded paper have been mulched back into the soil and over 50 pounds of batteries, both alkaline and re-chargeable, have been properly disposed of. When asked about the program, job coach John Hartner explained that it has been built and will continue to grow in small, sustainable steps; they take on only what they know can reasonably be maintained. All of the students who participate take great pride in their contribution to the program - and to the well-being of the environment!

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