CleanScapes Encourages Snoqualmie Students To Think Beyond Just Reducing, Recycling And Reusing

Just like the Cascade View 4th graders she teaches,  Elizabeth Cronin can also learn something new each day.  During a class presentation from local waste company, Cleanscapes,  Mrs. Cronin learned Starbucks coffee cups and lids can be recycled – as long as they are rinsed out first.  She commented what great information this was, because as the CVES Green Team Leader, she’d been told something different.

This week the Cascade View Green Team invited CleanScapes out to teach its 4th graders everything they ever wanted to know about garbage, recycling and composting.  And these kids wanted to know it all.  They got to sort garbage (stage props so clean garbage) and decide what bin it belonged in – garbage, recycle or compost.  They were then shown photos and taught what happens at recycling and composting plants – from start to finish.   They learned about the big “L” word when it comes to garbage – landfill.  They saw photos of garbage filled streets in an Italian village because their town landfill reached capacity.  That one really grossed then out!

Cleanscapes representative, “Miss Candy,” lead  the journey and kept students engaged for nearly an hour.  I guess maybe garbage is a little more interesting than Washington State history?  Candy encouraged them to think outside the box.  She emphasized that each time they can reuse something, it stays out of a landfill – that big hole in their earth.  Together with these 9 and 10 year olds I also learned a few new things.  Like aluminum and glass can be recycled and reused over and over.  They have an endless life span.  Plastic, however, can only be recycled and reused a few times.  A some point the recycling process makes the plastic particles too small to keep using.   Candy complimented the kids on using reusable water bottles at their desks rather than plastic ones.

So in addition to reducing, recycling and reusing, the kids were encouraged to re-think and re-imagine everything they toss in a garbage or recycling bin.  If food and yard waste can become dirt, then what can that Skittles wrapper or Capri Sun container become?  Out came Miss Candy’s magic bag, greeted by oo’s and ah’s.  A hand bag made of candy wrappers, a reusable grocery bag made of dishwasher detergent boxes, pop can tops became a purse.  And the kicker?  These kids now have fundraiser ideas.  They found out they can collect candy wrappers and juice box containers and sell them back to the people who make and sell these cool products.

The students had great questions.  Where do you take old computers?  What do you do with old erasers?  Can you recycle batteries?  What about corks?  Each question answered and inspired more thought from these creative kids.  They were even shown how to bring a lunch that creates no waste.  Use a reusable lunch box.  Use silverware from home.  Bring a cloth napkin.  Use Tupperware instead of plastic Ziploc bags.  Warning, there might be some local parents in for extra work as kids discover our products of convenience also create a lot of waste for their world.

The presentation ended with the icing on the cake, a tour of a big, green recycling truck – in the pouring rain as luck would have it.  It didn’t dampen the excitement, though.  I have kids.  Anytime something keeps them engaged, really thinking, for an hour straight, well, it’s a good thing.  Here’s to bringing this positive, informative, interactive and thought-provoking presentation to more Snoqualmie schools.

For more information on CleanScapes or to bring the presentation to your school visit

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  • Thanks for posting about your education and outreach work. I love hearing how other waste educators foster 3Rs knowledge, attitudes and behaviours!
    – John Watson, Waste Diversion Education Coordinator, Halton Region
    Twitter @HaltonRecycles, blog

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