Goshen students emphasize recycling



Published: Friday, February 5, 2024 5:36 PM CST

Goshen Elementary School custodian Ivory White, right, helps students with their recycling bins. Photo by Julia Biggs.

Goshen Elementary students are seeing on a daily basis how they can make an impact on the environment through recycling.

The students, kindergarten through second grade, are involved in a school-wide recycling program that began mid December. Together the students and staff have recycled 4,500 pounds of material since December that otherwise would have ended up in our local landfills.

The Goshen Elementary recycling program is coordinated by Karla Pool, Rebecca Holshouser and Tori Siron. Pool spearheads the program as she led the successful Leclaire Elementary recycling program for a couple years before moving to Goshen Elementary when the school opened. “Karla started it for us last year with our new building and then we just kind of all jumped on board,” Siron said.

The recycling program is supported by Ann Linenfelser, the Madison County’s Recycling Education Coordinator, and is funded through a grant obtained by Linenfelser and Cathie Wright, District 7 Coordinator of Early Childhood and Elementary Education.

“Every classroom has a recycling bin,” Siron said. “The art room, music room, the office has like five or six, the work room has two, and most of us have a little side one by our desk too.”

The recycling collection company they use, QRS Recycling, allows the items recycled to be co-mingled. “By being co-mingled, it just goes all together,” Siron said. “We don’t have to sort or do anything. We just throw it all in here.”

The teachers and staff completely support the program too. “In the teachers’ lounge we recycle our microwavable dinners - the cardboard out of that, the tray, our yogurt cups, bottles, and cans,” Siron said. “We do quite a bit in the lunch room. We’re recycling all of our milk cartons and our juice cartons which makes quite a bit because we can recycle all of those from breakfast and from lunch.”

With all the school-wide support, the bins can fill up quickly which brings us to the “Go Green” team. Each week the second grade classroom teachers select two or three different students to be the week’s “Go Green” team. Then twice a week the secretary announces over the speaker that it’s time to recycle and the “Go Green” team jumps into action.

Classroom teachers set their recycling bins in the hallway and the “Go Green” students scurry to collect the bins and take them out to the QRS Recycling trash bin outside. A Goshen Elementary custodian is always present to help assist the students dump their recycling bins into the larger outdoor bin.

“We have our students do it just to kind of teach them about recycling and give them an ownership in it,” Siron said. “This is something we just decided we were going to try and the kids have really enjoyed it.”

Goshen Elementary Principal Tara Wells felt the recycling program was a perfect teaching opportunity. “Going green is everywhere now, and we all want to be a part of teaching our children to be considerate of our planet,” Wells said. “It’s never too early to start instilling the values of recycling, reducing trash, and keeping our school and earth clean.”

Goshen Elementary began this new recycling program mid November after receiving the grant. Since that time, they have had QRS Recycling out to empty its full container 15 times. “That equals about 4,500 pounds of material or 120 cubic yards just since Dec. 14,” Siron said.

Siron was proud of their accomplishments in such a short time. “You have to factor in we had Christmas break there also,” she said about the two week break when the school wasn’t open and they weren’t recycling. “Yet, we‘ve been able to get that much of a difference out of the landfills.”

Goshen Elementary is quite adept at recycling. Last year the students recycled milk jug lids which earned them, through a recycling program, a bench for the school that was made out of recycled products.

Then earlier this year the students collected shoes as a recycling project. “The shoes were taken to the Madison County Courthouse to be collected by Pastor George Hutchings, also known as “the shoeman,” and Paul Wight of Remains,” Siron said. “The shoes in decent shape were shipped to Kenya to be reworn. Overall we collected over 600 pairs of shoes.”

While the students certainly learn a valuable lesson about recycling and the school sees a reduction in approximately 40 percent of its waste, the environment is the big winner in this equation. “Custodians have said that they have noticed a difference - that there’s a lot less trash,” Siron said. “If they can tell a difference, that’s always good.”

“Our recycling program and the Goshen Green Team have been a great way to teach kids about waste,” Wells said. “This is an easy way to go green – all it takes is throwing trash into a different place. We’re helping to protect the environment and teaching children healthy habits at an early age, which is important to all of us.”

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