When we launch the We Future Cycle program at schools, we work with administrators, custodians, aides, and food service to get the mechanics of the program implemented and humming. However, ultimately the goal is to give program ownership to the students. They are the ones who must learn to separate their lunch leftovers into the appropriate bins, and they are the ones who bring the recycling message home to their families and extended communities.
Fortunately, this is not hard to do! Students absolutely love sorting their lunch leftovers…it’s fun! As well, they thoroughly understand that their actions have a direct benefit on the environment, and they know that what they do makes a difference.
This said, even enthusiastic students need to know that their principals, school lunch aides, and parents support the program to foster sustained compliance, and students also need a refresher from time to time about how the lunchroom sorting works. Fortunately at the BMP Ridge Street School in the Blind Brook District, a 5th grader took it upon himself to spearhead that refresher!
Jackson Welde, 5th grade student, noticed that his peers were becoming a bit sloppy in the lunchroom, so he asked his principal if he could create a presentation to show at the monthly school-wide student assembly. (Click on the image to view a segment of the presentation.) The principal enthusiastically said “Yes!” and within a couple months, this presentation happened. The K-5 students were attentive listeners, and they learned compelling facts about plastic and paper waste as well as about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The presentation reminded students that properly sorting their leftovers in the lunchroom has ramifications to the health of their own environment, as well as to the environment around the world.
We Future Cycle encourages students to lead the environmental initiatives in their schools by making presentations such as these, as well as through Green Writing Contests, environmental education, and many other projects. Giving students ownership of environmental programs promotes the values and responsibility necessary to instill a lifetime of environmental stewardship.