Yes Oltman students, the district recyclesDuring the past several weeks, the Bulletin received letters from students doing a service-learning project in a humanities class at Oltman Junior High School in St. Paul Park
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
During the past several weeks, the Bulletin received letters from students doing a service-learning project in a humanities class at Oltman Junior High School in St. Paul Park.
Students, such as Maren Carter and Ashley Price said they believe the company that picks up trash at the school throws away the recyclables staff members and students put in recycling bins and want that corrected.
“If Oltman starts to recycle, other schools and maybe other cities will follow our lead,” wrote Maren Carter. “Just imagine what our kids may have to live with, and hopefully we can change that with recycling.”
“Recycling is supposed to help our planet, but we can’t take part in this good deed if we can’t recycle. So, do you see why this is a problem?”
First, I was glad to see such well-written letters from seventh-graders.
Both asked the newspaper to look into the “recycling problem.”
Since I hold the Bulletin world record for writing news stories about trash collection, I got busy.
In recent years, I, too, have wondered about “recycling.” When I’m in district buildings, I’ve seen some trash cans filled with paper, pop cans and plastic bottles.
I called John Doth, who oversees school facilities.
Yes, Maren and Ashley, the school district recycles. Allied, the waste hauler, picks up two containers from each facility, one with trash and the other with mixed recyclables. The recyclables are not thrown away.
The trash goes to a reprocessing plant in Newport where waste is made into fuel that is used by two southern Minnesota cities that had coal-fired energy-producing plants but now use our reprocessed garbage.
“Trash doesn’t go to a landfill,” Doth said. “There is an assumption that we don’t recycle but we do.”
Ashley and Maren, you are not the only ones confused about district recycling, Doth said he’s received calls from several schools.
Change is coming.
Doth, and his staff, are launching a new initiative. “Our goal is to recycle more than we throw away,” he said in an interview, June 9.
Old containers that had “for paper only” on them are a problem, he said, because people don’t know they are for all recyclables.
New containers are being bought and a comprehensive training program is in the works similar to the program to save energy that was so remarkably successful that the district won an award for its effort.
There will be a full-blown campaign for students and staff members on what to recycle and how to do it.
It’s important to me that people such as Ashley and Maren know that some of us are listening to their concerns.
We tell them that one person can make a difference, but most adults don’t really believe that. We also tell them to be sensible, not buck the system or be too idealistic.
I heard the negative message when I was in seventh-grade. I didn’t buy it and became a journalist.
So, keep it up, Ashley and Maren.
Judy Spooner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.