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  • Alexa Green

How can we lift the burden for the next generation? Make it easier for society to recycle right!

The burden for the next generation

Children today are having to learn about critical issues that their parents never had to contend with when they were children. Issues such as: climate change, sea level rise, waste in oceans, dioxins in sea life, increasing CO2 levels, and depletion of finite resources were not part of the classroom curriculum 20 years ago. Unfortunately, today these words and global concerns are part of the next generation’s daily vocabulary. And sadly, it is up to them to solve the most pressing environmental, social, and economic issues in history - issues that they didn't create and that could have been avoided.

The good news is that students are not only passionate, but they are driven and keenly aware of some of the simple actions that can make a huge difference when it comes to fixing these global problems, such as recycling.

However, despite recycling being the #1 action to address our environmental woes and despite children having a great passion for it, recycling has unfortunately continued to be confusing and as a result, is often ineffective. Today more than 25% of the recycling processing plants in the U.S. owned by the largest recycling hauler have been closed due to the public’s confusion at the bin and the subsequent amounts of contamination.

A simple solution

This is why Recycle Across America has been committed to solving the confusion at the bin with society-wide standardized labels on recycling bins to help students in schools and to help people everywhere be able to recycle more and recycle right.

So how can we help the next generation? What can we do to ensure these students feel that they are actually changing the world in a positive way?

We are taking the first step to answer these questions.

Recycle Across America has a goal to provide 1,000,000 standardized labels to K-12 Schools in the U.S, by 2017. Thanks to amazing corporate and individual donors, today we have nearly 500,000 standardized labels already in schools. The ultimate goal, of course, is that each school in the nation uses the standardized labels on their recycling bins and that each student knows how to recycle right wherever they are in society.

Results prove the standardized labels are working

Last year, Bank of America donated free standardized labels to all of the K-12 public schools in Orlando, Florida. Because of their donation, the Orange County Public Schools District (OCPS) has seen an increase in their recycling levels of nearly 90% as a result of the gift of free standardized labels for their recycling bins and the school district saved more than $369,000 (net savings)!!

Here is an excerpt from Jennifer Fowler's recap of their recycling program since Bank of America provided the donation (Jennifer heads up the waste diversion program at the school district):

"Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) received the generous donation of 25,000 standardized recycling and landfill labels for our recycling bins from the Bank of America and Recycle Across America. The standardized labels were distributed to the 184 district schools prior to the start of the 2015-2016 school year and placed on their respective containers by the OCPS custodial team. A set of 20 schools were chosen to audit before and after the placement of the labels. Additionally, our waste collection vendor, Waste Management, weighed each of the 20 schools dumpsters for a three month period to monitor the amount of material placed in trash or recycling dumpsters.

Data collected during this audit revealed an increase from an average of 2.55 pounds per student to an average 4.81 pounds per student. The total pounds reported by the vendor also revealed an increase of over 26,000 total pounds recycled, which would extrapolate to approximately 239,200 total pounds diverted from the landfill. It is evident that the standardized labels have been instrumental in increasing district recycling and saving money by diverting materials from landfill-bound garbage bins. Based on the results of school staff interviews, the labels are providing a consistent message to prevent confusion on what goes into a recycling container versus a garbage bin."

A free toolkit for students and schools

Across the nation, science teachers, vice principals, and other motivated staff and students are forced to make crucial decisions about their school's recycling programs. They have to figure out where to to place their bins, what bins to get, what labels to use, how they should recycle, and what they should recycle. We’ve created a toolkit to help answer these questions.

Click on this image below to receive the downloadable PDF of the Toolkit:

When students have the standardized labels in their schools, they truly learn how to recycle right. But imagine the impact when they see the same labels at home, at their local grocery store, at their favorite amusement park, and in their airports and other public spaces. When the standardized labels are represented on every bin they come in contact with, there will never be any confusion as to what they’re supposed to do.

Take action, join the movement, and lighten the burden for the next generation!

  1. Email us to nominate your school for free standardized labels

  2. Donate to help provide free labels to K-12 schools in the U.S

  3. Sign the Mayor's Petition to help get standardized labels in your city

  4. Order standardized labels for your city, organization, or business to help the next generation recycle right!

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