Each year when students clean out their lockers or desks, paper and other materials that could have been recycled or reused are needlessly thrown away. Think of all the work your school has put into waste reduction and recycling this year! Why stop now. Instead, follow this simple step-by-step plan for organizing an end of year clean-out and see how much your school can reuse, recycle and donate.
Identify a staff member, club or group of students to take the lead in preparing for, promoting and monitoring the cleanout. This could be an environmental club or Green Team, student council, or class that is particularly interested in being involved.
Discuss the collection process/details with administration and facilities manager. You should determine:
When will the event be held? Will it be a designated day for all students, or will each grade or floor be assigned a separate "cleanout" day? For high schools, will students be given time during homeroom or study hall to clean out their lockers and how much supervision will be required? We encourage you to hold your clean-out on a day immediately following one of your recycling collection days to ensure that you have enough space for all you recyclables.
Where will recycling/trash/reuse stations be set up in the school? Will you place recycling carts/bins next to trash cans at each end of hallways, or will you designate one large sorting station per floor? We suggest that if you have adequate space in the hallways that you place stations as close as possible to lockers and classrooms, making recycling during the clean-out very easy.
How many recycling carts/bins will be present at each recycling station? Seeing that recyclable paper makes up most of a school's waste stream, we would encourage you to have more recycling carts/bins then trash cans at each station.
How will you collect items for reuse? Will you have a cardboard box at each recycling station for all reusable items or will you have several boxes labeled for various common reusable items such as teacher supplies, books, clothes, notebooks, pencils, pens, etc.?
3. Begin saving cardboard boxes from the kitchen that can be labeled and use to collect reusable items.
4. Educate students and staff through signs and announcements about the "cleanout" and how to participate.
5. If possible, enlist parent volunteers, students and staff to monitor recycling stations on the day(s) of the cleanout.
Recycling During Cleanout Day
1. Label recycling bins/carts clearly, explaining what goes in and what stays out. Although students have already been recycling during the school year, an extra reminder during this busy time will be helpful.
REMEMBER...what is not accepted in the recycling:
- Laminated paper, paper cups, paper towels, napkins & tissues
- Plastic bags, wrappers, tubs, cups, trays, crates
- Foam cups, trays, blocks, packing peanuts, etc.
- Electronics (Contact DPS Enterprise Management at 720-423-5650 for pick-up of no longer needed or working electronics and furniture.
- Paint, batteries, chemicals, CFLs, etc. (Contact DPS Facilities Management at 720-424-5454 for disposal of potentially hazardous materials.)
2. Relocate all trash cans
in hallways and common areas so they are paired with recycling carts/bins at your designated recycling stations, making it easy for students to sort trash from recyclables. Never have a trash can by itself in a hallway or common area, as it's sure to collect materials that could have been recycled.
3. Monitor the recycling stations
to ensure students are recycling the correct materials and to switch out recycling carts and trash cans as they get full.
Reuse During Cleanout Day
Many materials students throw away at the end of the school year can be used again in the future. Examples include crayons, notebooks, markers, glue, scissors and many other school supplies.
Set aside a central location as a reuse area
and encourage students to bring items that can be used again next year to that location. Or, include labeled reuse boxes at each of your recycling stations throughout the school. (Designate a "reuse closet" for these materials for student and staff to visit in the fall and obtain supplies free of charge.)
2. Place clothes donation boxes in a central reuse area or next to recycling stations for students to deposit unwanted clothing. Some students (especially older students) will throw out clothes at the end of the year rather than taking them home. These leftover clothing items can be donated to a local charity organization. (Identify a staff member or parent who can take the donated items to a local donation center.)