The students worked in groups of four at a time to sort through the school’s waste to discover what can be recycled. The students were shocked by the amount of paper towels that can be recycled as well as the amount of plastics. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Grade 4 students learn ways to reduce waste at school

Leanne Bertram with Clean Conscience Recycling visited the students at Mother Teresa School, Nov. 7

One day of garbage from Mother Teresa School was saved so Grade 4 students could see the waste that could be recycled.

One day of trash resulted in a small mound of trash, and much of it could be recycled, according to Leanne Bertram who was helping the Mme. Tamalyn Tardif’s Grade 4 class sort the recyclables.

After ensuring there was no broken glass, or possibly dangerous items in the collections, Grade 4 students went through and sorted the garbage into recyclable items and garbage.

One issue Bertram found in the mix was the use of bags inside bags. In some instances upwards of 25 nearly empty garbage bags were found inside one.

“What is being done is the nearly empty trash bags are being taken and thrown into another, which causes more waste,” explained Bertram. The Grade 4 class immediately recognized much of the items thrown away could be recycled or composted.

The class sorted out items such as food and paper towels that could be composted, deposit items like drink containers that are recyclable, as well as paper and plastics.

The kids seemed to be surprised by what they found while going though it all. One surprise was the food waste.

Many of the kids remarked they were shocked to see practically full apples with only a bite or two taken out of them.

According to Mme. Tardif, the class found seven main problems, and came up with a solution for each. The class will be tackling three large problems first.

“We found more paper towel than we expected considering that our bathrooms only have air dryers,” Tardif explained afterwards.

Paper towels are recyclable and can be composted. Paper towel can be placed in the recycling bins after use, according to Bertram.

Tardif and her class were “alarmed” by the amount of plastic found in the garbage.

A suggestion from the class to limit plastic waste is to empty garbage cans nightly and only replace the bag when the garbage bag is dirty or wet.

“We also considered getting smaller garbage bins to replace the large bins so that smaller bags are going into the trash,” said Tardif.

Another idea the class suggested was to consider a plastic recycling program. This would require students to wash out the plastic containers each day.

According to Tardif, her students already do some recycling in the classroom, but she hoped to find out what more could be done by her class, the school and herself.

“We already try to recycle plastic containers. The students wash them out at the sink before putting them in the recycling bin,” said Tardif.

The recycling demonstration is part of the class’s science program, and helped give the students a view of their school’s impact on the environment.

The process allowed the students, and those who came in for a few minutes to take in the process, to think critically and use their problem solving skills to find solutions to the issues found.

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