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2023 Recycle Rally Challenge

After a four-year hiatus, CSWD was finally able to bring back the popular Recycle Rally – a friendly inter-school competition that empowers students, raises awareness about resource recovery and conservation, and unites school communities around a common goal: protect the planet!

The CSWD Recycle Rally challenges teams of students and teachers to raise awareness about proper management of their resources.

Champlain students presenting for the CSWD Recycle Rally

The CSWD Recycle Rally challenges teams of students and teachers to raise awareness about proper management of their resources. In the friendly competition, teams win points by conducting weekly surveys of recycling and trash bins around their school and recording the percentage of bins that contained only materials that belong in them. Schools can earn up to 10 sustainability bonus points for programs and practices that were implanted both before and during the Rally.

Our whole team was thrilled to see the enthusiasm that students, staff and teachers put into becoming recycling champs. New this year, CSWD added a new category to this amazing challenge: The Changemaker Award, which recognizes the school that demonstrates the greatest improvement in overall sustainability.  

Without further ado, here are the winners:

Recycle Rally Overall Winner: Brewster Pierce Memorial School (BPMS)

Tucked away at the base of Camels Hump in Huntington, Brewster Pierce may be a small school, but they are mighty planet protectors tallying up a score of 99 points!  Not only have they earned the Recycle Rally Trophy to display for a year, but they received all 10 sustainability bonus points.

The team includes Sandy Heyman – a member of the school’s maintenance team, Savannah, Lilly, Cy and Logan.  Of course, it takes a village to protect the planet and BPMS shines when it comes to ensuring the entire community is aware of the importance of being stewards of the Earth.

One of the most impressive sustainability efforts practiced at BPMS is their commitment to using bulk milk, which eliminates the need to send milk cartons to the landfill and reduces the amount of milk being wasted. Even the preschoolers use cups to get their milk and after chatting to several students a few years back, we found out no one is crying over spilled milk (a fear expressed by many schools when considering converting to bulk milk). 

BPMS’ dedicated staff have also gone above and beyond the blue bin. Ms. Motta collects toothpaste containers and old markers to send out for recycling. Ansel brings home food scraps to feed to his chickens (feeding animals is a better reuse of food than even composting!). Mr. Delay drops off wrappers at REI for recycling through Terracycle. Ms. Sandy is an avid recycler of fluorescent bulbs and batteries of all kinds. Brewster Pierce also partners with Foley/WB Mason to purchase recycled paper products, ensuring the recycling loop is a complete circle.

CSWD will present Brewster Pierce with the Recycle Rally Trophy on Friday, March 26.

Runner up: C.P. Smith

The C.P. Smith team in Burlington did not go down without a fight; they had a final score of 98 points! They were just one point shy of maintaining their reigning champion status. When it comes to cleaning up the planet, everyone is a clear winner in our eyes.  The C.P. team submitted 20 sustainability initiatives regularly followed at C.P. Smith through policies, practices and promotions throughout the community in Burlington’s New North End. 

These superb planet protectors are the only school we are aware of that implemented a Food Sharing Program in collaboration with the North End Food Pantry where all leftover snacks from the week are donated to the NRFP to feed the folks in their community!  We consider this a model school for ensuring not only are the children fed but ALL members of the community have access to food.

Food donation of milk

C.P. Smith has also been participating in the Trex School Challenge, a competition put on by Trex who recycles flip-floppy plastic (aka plastic film) into composite lumber for decks, fencing, and furniture. This year C.P. Smith collected 160 pounds of flip-floppy plastic (like the bags school breakfasts often come in) to get recycled; that’s a lot of plastic film being kept out of the landfill.

To read about all of C.P. Smith’s incredible environmental efforts, check out their Recycle Rally Sustainability Report.  It is sure to blow your mind; it surely did ours.

The Changemaker Award: Champlain Elementary School (CES)

Changemaker award - Champlain Elementary 2023

Receiving the first ever Changemaker Award, Champlain Elementary School’s fifth graders put a lot of sweat and hard work into increasing their school’s sorting skills by 152% during the challenge.  We have never seen such a stunning improvement by a participating school since the start of the Recycle Rally in 2016! 

They had a clear plan from the get-go to assess their baseline sorting skills, get the fifth graders trained on how to sort properly, then educate the entire school in sectors: adults, K-2 grades, and 3-4 grades.

The Champlain team also took a scientific approach to the Recycle Rally Challenge. I worked with them on what goes where and why making sure the right materials are placed in the correct bins is important to sustainability.  

The team also conducted a Trash-on-the Lawn Day (TOLD), led by our CSWD team, to determine how well the school is sorting materials. I must say, after nearly 10 years of helping schools with waste sorts, I have never witnessed such amazing sorting skills.  Their lunchtime food scraps bin was 100% foods scraps, not one single piece of trash in sight. That is an incredible feat for anyone, let alone an elementary school!

Using the TOLD and Recycle Rally bin survey data, students created interventions to educate their community with the aim of reducing waste. This included making posters, teaching the younger students how to sort out their stuff as well as school staff, and creating videos to promote composting paper towels just to mention a few of the innovated ways these sharp kiddos raised awareness throughout their community.

Check out Champlain Elementary School’s full report for the nitty gritty details on how they improved so dramatically.

CSWD will present Champlain ES with the Changemaker Award on Friday, June 2nd.

A huge thank you to all the schools that participated in the 2023 CSWD Recycle Rally Challenge. It is clear to me, by working together, our school communities provide inspiration, spur innovation, and generate pride throughout the larger communities to leave this planet just a wee bit better than we found it. Thank you, Planet Protectors! You are all rock stars!

Recycle Rhonda

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Rhonda Mace
Rhonda Mace
School Outreach Coordinator at CSWD
When she's not setting up a worm composting farm or conducting a waste audit, Rhonda likes to hike and observe nature (she really digs bugs), ride her bike (preferably on the bike path) and cook with locally grown (mostly from her garden) foods. You can reach her at 802-872-8100 x211.