Edition 123, February 2023

RLA Sustainability Community Spotlight: Elementary Students Take Action to a Greener Planet

By Felecia Przybyla, Reverse Logistics Association

I was excited to recently see a social media post about a local school who was not only taking action, but helping to teach young minds to think about recycling, a greener earth, and sustainability by having them take part in this great marker recycling program.

Gisela Gutierrez is a 6th Grade Teacher, at Stone Lake Elementary School in Elk Grove California. She had seen on Instagram that a local High School had a “Plastics Club” and was also taking part in a marker recycling program, and immediately went into action, since she knew her own students go through many markers each school year.

“I first heard about Terracycle via Instagram on the Refill Madness account. Refill Madness is a store in midtown Sacramento that sells bulk items, bulk beauty products, etc. They have Terracycle collection boxes for toothbrushes, deodorant tubes, and other household plastics.”

To obtain a free shipping label, they had to register for a Terracycle program that typically collaborates with a major company. “I signed up for the Bic school supply program, which fortunately does not require only Bic products to be recycled. They will accept all brands.”

My NEHS (National Elementary Honor Society) partner, Melanie Tsukamoto, labeled boxes for collection and placed those around campus along with notifying teachers of our program. “After school being closed for 1.5 years [due to COVID], I knew that many teachers had dried out markers and pens and I didn't want to see all of them go to a landfill!”

“Typically, I have the NEHS students pick up the collection boxes and they help me put the markers and glue sticks into a bag and then a large box for shipping. I then take it to UPS where it is shipped for free.”

“[We are] only allowed one shipping label at a time which means I have to try to pack as much as I can into one box. I believe the weight limit is 30 pounds. Once they receive my box, the website will generate another shipping label. It's amazing how quickly our school amasses used up glue sticks, [Sharpies], and markers!”

When asked how she helps with the Terracycle program, Madeline Kann said: "I go around the school and collect dry markers that teachers have put in bins in the teacher workrooms. Then we package them and my teacher ships them with UPS.”

When asked why schools should recycle school supplies, Aiden Aldueza said, "I think schools should recycle school supplies because you can make new school supplies with the old ones."

Andy Liu was asked if he would want to continue this program when he goes to middle or high school. He said, "yes, I want to continue this program because it helps the environment by making new supplies instead of it sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years." 

Thank you to the Stone Lake Elementary Students who are taking action to keep those landfills less full. These acts will make big differences.

Have you seen community members in your area contribute to a more sustainable environment? Share their story with us and submit to editor@rla.org.

Felecia Przybyla
Felecia is RLA's Director of Media. She has been with the company since 2010 and has held a variety of roles within RLA. She started out working with speakers the first few years, and is currently managing all Media needs including Editor of the RL Magazine, the RLA SmartBrief, monthly Events emails, social media and now the annual RLA Conf & Expo in Las Vegas.