Brewster-Pierce Memorial School (BPMS) maybe be small in size but wallops a punch when it comes to reducing, reusing, and recycling. And I have had the privilege of being a part of some of their incredible efforts over the past year.
Most recently, spearheaded by maintenance maven Sandy Heyman, BPMS held their first Zero Waste Day. The entire school participated in trying their hardest to NOT produce any trash, whether in the classroom, art class, or lunch. “No more trash!” was heard more than once while I joined the students for a delightful lunch. Students who packed a lunch did so in a variety of containers from typical leftover plastic storage containers to what appeared to be a modern take on a mess kit. Some kiddos were packing cloth bags that housed their PB&J sandwiches and grapes; very cool and an idea I will be borrowing for future use. By days end, BPMS produced about 2.5 pounds of trash for the entire school; bravo!
Another way BPMS reduces their impact on the environment (and the wallet) is by using a milk dispenser instead of purchasing milk cartons that ultimately end up in our only landfill in Vermont. Not many schools use a milk dispenser, or ‘cow’ as they are often referred to as, to serve milk to the students. Alison Forrest, Commander in Chef (and a darn good one too), switched over to a milk dispenser over a decade ago and has no regrets doing so. Increased spillage you ask? Not anything noticeable according to the students I surveyed on my first visit to Brewster Pierce; “Mostly kids spill water not milk because we are only allowed to fill our cup half way with milk. Then we can go back for more if we want.” In a recent lunchtime waste audit held at BPMS, only 1 quart of milk was wasted and a half pound of trash produced (nearly zero waste and that wasn’t even planned). And the kindergarteners through second graders didn’t waste a single drop of milk during their lunch; way to build strong bones and minds kiddos! If you are thinking that is too much wasted milk for one day then consider that other schools of comparable size waste about 4 gallons of milk per day.
During my latest visit, Mrs. Aitkin bounded up to me to inform me that her students not only were full-heartedly participating in Zero Waste Day but they found ways to reuse some items that would have gone into the trash. Popsicle sticks were washed and saved for future projects and plastic baggies were rinsed and dried for storing small bits and pieces (always a need in the 3/4 classroom). Way to use your noggins third and fourth graders!
Brewster Pierce, for as long as I have been working with them, has always practiced great recycling sense and skills but this year they participated in the battery recycling challenge. Call2Recycle challenged 5th and 6th graders throughout Vermont to collect and recycle as many batteries, including single-use alkaline batteries, as they could throughout the month of March. BPMS was not going to be discouraged since they only teach K-4th grade so they set up their own collection bins, keeping 76 pounds of batteries from the landfill. My challenge to you: let’s see how many batteries Brewster Pierce can keep out of the landfill for the entire 2016-17 school year. You up for it?
Brewster Pierce is always searching for ways to improve their sorting skills, educate the students and increase the amount of materials diverted from the trash, all while making it wicked fun for students and staff alike. I am very proud of the accomplishments this little country school has made so I deem them the 3 R’s Rock Stars; keep up the amazerful work!
Until next school year….Recycle Rhonda.