Victoria Riley, left, Kimberly Bertz, and Jordan Bopery help parent volunteers Joanna Kirchoff and Charlotte Slattery place recycled paper into the bin at Hill View Elementary. Students come to school early one day a week for the recycling project.
Trash-talking Sylvania students rise and shine early once a week to help save the planet, bin by bin.
Members of Hill View's Recycle Club each Wednesday morning tote orange containers filled with paper - scraps of colorful construction paper, old homework papers, cardboard boxes from the cafeteria - to a large collection container located just outside the Sylvania school.
"We are showing what we can do to not hurt nature," said Brittany Yost, 10, one of the 18 students who were elected to the recycling team.
"We are doing what we can to save the forest and save the wildlife," she said.
Hill View is one of the new participants in a school paper recycling program conducted by the Keep Toledo/Lucas County Beautiful and the Lucas County Solid Waste Management District.
The program was launched several years ago in response to inquiries about paper recycling from a fourth-grade student government class in Waterville, said Juliana Sample, executive director of Keep Toledo/Lucas County Beautiful.
The popular program, she said, is driven by students, teachers, and parents organizations, and currently, 16 schools in Lucas County are on a waiting list to join the program.
Schools are added to the program as large storage containers for the paper products become available, Mrs. Sample said.
Last month, 3,600 students at nine schools in Lucas County were introduced to the program, including Hill View where small, orange recycling bins have been placed in classrooms, the teacher's lounge, the cafeteria, and other locations.
"All the children are into it. It has really caught on. The kids know what goes in the recycling bins, and they put it in there," said Mia Kujawa, a Hill View fourth-grade teacher and coordinator of the Recycling Club who put the school's name on the program's waiting list several months ago.
"This is getting the kids to rethink," she said. Students rethink their roles in saving the environment.
"It isn't just words. We're all doing it. It's great," Mrs. Kujawa said.
Hill View's trash paper used to be put in plastic bags and then dumped in a landfill, Mrs. Kujawa said. Now, most of it goes into the recycling bins.
To prevent bugs and disease, paper that has touched food or a human body, such as paper towels used to dry hands or facial tissues used to wipe runny noses, cannot be recycled.
There are other rules. "No plastics," said Anna Spinelli, a fourth-grade student, after she helped put paper in a large storage container.
Other Recycling Club members flattened cardboard boxes that were hauled out of the school by Charlotte Slattery, one of the parents who assists with the recycling project.
Joanna Kirchhoff, whose fourth-grade son Scott helps empty the recycling bins each week, pitches in because she believes "in protecting the environment and believes in helping the kids and the school."
A chemist, she said she "strongly believes in recycling and reusing. It's good for everybody."
Trucks from the solid waste district pick up the paper from participating schools, said Mrs. Sample.
The paper is processed locally and then taken to an Ohio firm that makes insulation from the recycled paper, she said.
There is no cost to the schools because materials used in the program are donated, Mrs. Sample said.
"Obviously that's a huge attraction," she said.
Other Sylvania schools also participate in the program.
Students spread the word at home about the importance of recycling.
"When you get students involved, it opens up conversation about recycling," Mrs. Sample said.
"It is a wonderful springboard. Our goal, from an educational standpoint, is to start a lifestyle. Students tell parents they need to recycle at home, and they make commitments to get involved."