A reusable education

Published 5:39 pm Saturday, March 5, 2016

Wise words from a sixth-grader were featured in Friday’s edition in a story about a recycling program at John Yeates Middle School.

“It’s important we find a way we can reuse things,” A’lauren Gilchrist said. “We can change our future if we start recycling now … and keep material off the ground and out of the landfills. It’s mostly about changing mindsets and making people realize that they can make a difference.”

That’s keen insight for someone A’lauren’s age. She and other students at John Yeates Middle School have helped kick-start a recycling program at the school.

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Assistant Principal Wendy VanHosen decided she wanted to start the program when she was transferred to the school last fall. Until then, the school didn’t have a formal recycling program. A few teachers took their own recyclables home, but for the most part, every scrap of paper, plastic bottle and soda can used in the school was dumped in the trash and eventually made its way to the landfill.

One piece of paper or one can doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when multiplied by the hundreds of students, teachers and other staff at the school and multiply again by all of the days in the school year, the needless waste adds up quickly.

So VanHosen and her students took it upon themselves to fix the problem.

VanHosen applied for and received two grants. She got one for $500 from AskHRgreen.org, a green public awareness campaign administered by the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, and one for $150 from the school’s PTSA.

Most of the grant was used to fund the green bin that now sits behind the school and serves as the receptacle for all of the school’s recyclable waste. TFC Recycling comes and empties the bin once a week for $50 per month, and staff from TFC have done educational training about what can and can’t be put in the bin.

It’s never too early to begin learning about how to care for the earth these students and their classmates will call home for the next 80-plus years. We applaud VanHosen and all of the students who have gotten involved in the effort.