Fort McMurray Islamic School Recycling Club
Jack Layton Award | Runner-Up
A large problem in Fort McMurray is that the municipality’s recycling program is in its infancy. Currently, only select sections of the town have curbside collection for recyclable materials such as paper and cardboard. This problem persists in our schools, as well, where there is no district-wide initiative for recycling. Schools, of course, are massive consumers of paper products; however, everyday these recyclable products go into garbage bags and eventually end up in our landfill. In Fort McMurray, about 1/3 of the waste that goes into our landfill is paper products which could have been recycled.
This project also helps address some of the complex social barriers that prevent better recycling in our city. Fort McMurray is a very diverse city, as evidenced by the population of our own school. Many students come from families who are new to Canada, and who are not familiar with recycling programs. In addition, many families do not speak English as their mother tongue, and may not be receptive to advertisements about recycling put forth by the city. By taking part in this program, our students are becoming recycling ambassadors who can easily educate others at home and in their community about the importance of recycling and how to do it.
Our vision is, through out recycling club, to make our school as green as possible, and to challenge other schools to follow our example. We may be a small school in size, but we feel as though we are making a big impact for our environment, and spreading a message of caring for our environment that will continue throughout our community!
A recycling club was established in 2011 to pilot a paper recycling program in our school. It diverted the thousands of pounds of paper that would have gotten thrown away in our school from ending up in our local landfill. We have continued our program in 2012 and 2013, with the hopes of gathering even more paper.
We have created informative how-to recycling posters and place them and a recycling bin in each classroom and office area. We also gave oral presentations to each classroom to educate the rest of the students about how to recycle their paper, and about how to reduce the amount of paper waste they generate in the first place. Through school newsletters, parents and community members have been encouraged to participate by sending in paper waste from home. Each week we collect, weigh, bag and recycle all of the paper in our school. The results of how much paper we recycle are measured down to the last pound, as we weigh the amount of paper we collect each week, and keep track of it in a spreadsheet.
Our recycling club has also teamed up with Terra Cycle Canada this year, in order to divert various lunch waste items in our school such as plastic baggies, cookie, cracker and candy bar wrappers. These are items typically not accepted in other recycling programs. The Terra Cycle system allows us to collect these commonly disposed of lunch items in our school and send them to be made into new products. So far with this program we have collected almost 9000 units of waste.