Submitted by Gretchen Carey, Bedford’s Recycling Coordinator
The Lane School is doing an impressive job of teaching their students to care: not just about each other, but about their environment. They are creating connections with nature and raising awareness about how their actions affect the world around them.
The Lane School students have just finished a contest sponsored by the DPW, where the participants created a logo they felt represented reducing, reusing and recycling. The winning logo was then put on the 650 water bottles donated to the school by the Department of Public Works, so every student and staff member could have one.
The whole student body participated, with 157 children entering the contest. Jean Mickle, the assistant teacher who volunteered to take on this project, became a judge for this art contest, along with the art teacher, Cat Johnston, and the Vice Principal, Keith Kinney. The three narrowed the 157 entries down to the top 6. Every student got one ticket with which they could vote for their favorite.
The winner was Amelia, who is in the fourth grade. Her image incorporates an image of the planet Earth surrounded by the universal recycling triangle composed of leaves. Each reusable BPA-free water bottle is labeled with the school name and has a place for the student to write in his or her name. Ameila was also given a $10 gift certificate to the Used Book Superstore in Burlington, where thousands of used books find a second life.
Ms. Mickle says that a half to two-thirds of the students are using their water bottles at school, and they refill them throughout the day. She is pleased to note that they are drinking much more water this way, rather than taking sips at the water fountain. “Even through the course of a single day, the number of disposable water bottles saved from the waste stream is significant,” says Gretchen Carey, the Recycling Coordinator from the Department of Public Works who suggested the program. “There are approximately 600 students, and even if half of them use a single-use water bottle each day, the numbers of disposal bottles add up very quickly.” The custodian of the Lane school noted that the number of water bottles in the recycling had noticeably decreased after the reusable bottle program began.
This bottle contest is part of a bigger picture now for Mickle and the Lane School. Mickle and assistant teacher Cheryl Johnston co-lead an environmental group for the students called the Green Team, a program supported by the Department for Environmental Protection. A challenge issued by the DEP encourages children to take on different projects that will teach environmental stewardship while educating the children. One of the steps of this challenge was completed with the water bottle project, which helps the children to cut their trash levels and re-use instead. The last step of the challenge will be met by the Lane School’s next big event: planting blueberry bushes in their school garden.