To kick off “Garbology” unit, the 5th and 6th grade students in The Sterling House at Williston Central School toured CSWD’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF), where all blue bin reyclables go to get sorted, baled and sold.
At this point, you may be saying “Hold on, what the heck is Garbology?” And fair enough! According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, “garbology” is the study of modern culture through the analysis of what is thrown away as garbage. Led by some amazing teachers, the students set out on a quest to discover what kind of materials humans generate, where all that stuff goes when we are done using it, and what actions they could take to make less waste to better protect the environment and all living creatures.
As the School Outreach Coordinator for CSWD, I had the privilege to do a little trash talkin’ with these extraordinary students about where all our stuff comes from and how we can be better stewards of the Earth by practicing the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Not only did they discover all the different materials that we use on a daily basis, but they also learned how our consumption affects other people across the globe during the production and disposal process of these materials.
Sustainability ideas…outside of the blue bin!
As a part of the Garbology unit, students came up with some action ideas to start reducing, reusing, and recycling better. It was truly inspiring to see how much work they had put into their projects but more inspiring was learning the actions they will take to make change in their own habits to be better stewards of the earth. Here area few of those sustainability initiatives they started:
Collection of flip-floppy plastic to take back to local stores for recycling elsewhere (flip-floppy is also known as plastic film/bags). This flip-floppy plastic will be recycled by Trex into composite lumber for decking, chairs, and train bridges.
A battery collection box for rechargeable, lithium AND alkaline batteries. These batteries will be taken to a CSWD Drop-Off Center to be recycled elsewhere into fertilizer, sunscreen, and other batteries.
Batteries do NOT belong in the blue bin; they pose serious fire hazards at the MRF. Rechargeable and lithium batteries are illegal to toss into the landfill-bound trash due to the toxicity of the chemistry within the battery. Please make sure these batteries make it to a Drop-Off Center near you. And since you must take these batteries, why not just collect the single-use alkaline batteries too!
After visiting the MRF, the place all blue-bin recyclables come to get sorted, baled,then sold, students realized most of what needs sorting is paper. Although recycling is cool, reducing is way cooler so Sterling House made a poster advising folks to Say No To JunkMail. Very clever to have the tabs with website info convenient for passers-by to snag.
As I checked out the students’ Garbology learning on display, one thing became apparent: their actions reach beyond the classroom walls. One student convinced his mom to begin collecting food scraps for composting. Another students’ dad admitted to me that he was not a very good recycler, but pledged to be more vigilant from that day forth.
This is why I love working with kids; not only are they adorable and more apt to gain the attention of adults, but they truly embrace the power of positive change. I am very proud of these kiddos for taking on a very important topic – although often overlooked – to be the change the world needs to move forward.
Thank you, Sterling House teachers, for inviting me to be part of the Garbology Unit. I had a blast and learned so much. You guys rock! Thanks for being amazing leaders for our youth.
If you are interested in learning more about the Garbology Unit, please contact Amy Durant at firstname.lastname@example.org.