As part of USGBC Louisiana’s Green Schools Challenge, Global Green USA’s New Orleans office is serving as a mentor for Hynes Charter School. Each school participating in the challenge selects an environmental issue (i.e. energy usage, waste reduction) and receives help from a mentor organization to develop a project that addresses the issue while involving students and educating them about environmental stewardship. For third grade French immersion teacher Alex Lelarge, high paper usage has been a key concern in his classroom. So, we partnered with the Hynes Charter School teacher and his students to promote reusing and recycling paper, as well as other recyclable materials the school normally sends to landfill.
Step 1: Train Our First Class of Recycling Rangers
During our first visit to Mr. Lelarge’s classroom, we gave an introductory lesson about waste and recycling by explaining what can and cannot be recycled, and why we should care – emphasizing the “4 R’s”: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Respect. (Or, since these students speak French, en francais: Réduis, Réutilise, Recycle, Respecte.) Next, we asked the students to create rough draft posters showing what they learned.
The lesson culminated with the entire class pledging to serve as Hynes Charter School Recycling Rangers:
“I pledge to do my part to recycle at home and at school.
I also pledge to reduce waste and reuse items.
I know that the Earth’s resources are limited, and that by recycling, we make sure there will be a future where there will be trees, clean air, and clean water.
I also pledge to help my family and friends recycle as much as they can and to tell people about how important it is to recycle.”
Step 2: Check In With Our Recycling Ranger Recruits!
Two weeks later, Global Green returned to Mr. Lelarge’s classroom to sort through the recycling and trash bins and to answer any questions the students came up with. Overall, they did pretty well!
After this refresher, the Recycling Rangers broke into groups to create final drafts of their posters – making large, colorful versions that will be posted throughout the school to remind other students (and teachers!) how to recycle.
While we were working with the students, Mr. Lelarge worked with administration to negotiate a recycling contract with their current waste haulers. As a result, Hynes now has school-wide recycling pick up twice per week, plus a waste contract that costs less than their original landfill-only contract!
Step 3: Recruit more Rangers!
Now trained Recycling Rangers, Mr. Lelarge’s class took a leadership role and trained the other two third grade classes about the “4 R’s” and the environment. After presenting their posters and answering their peers’ questions, the Rangers helped the other third graders make additional “how-to” recycling posters that will go up around the school.
These two classes then took the Recycling Ranger pledge and were given their badges. Hynes Charter School is now home to 75 Recycling Rangers ready to train the rest of the school on how to recycle!
Global Green’s New Orleans office will continue to work with Hynes and the Recycling Rangers throughout the USGBC Louisiana Green Schools Challenge to facilitate the implementation of their school-wide recycling program.
A huge thank you to Mr. Lelarge and his class for their dedication and hard work. Go Rangers!