Terracycle Turns Trash into Money for Bauerwood!

Parent volunteer extraordinaire, Becky Hilbelink, grew up hearing about the importance of recycling. Her father worked for waste companies for most of his working life and taught Becky and her siblings the value of recycling what we use and using things that be recycled. So it makes sense that Becky is the one responsible for bringing the familiar Terracycle bins to the Bauerwood entrance.

“I noticed TerraCycle printed on a carton of CapriSuns advertising that you could earn money for your child’s school.  I went to TerraCycle’s website, did some research on it, and then brought the idea to the Bauerwood parent club to help earn some money for the things that the parent club funds.”

Terracycle is an innovative recycling company that has become a global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle waste. Sponsoring companies pay for the shipping of the recyclables to TerraCycle, but schools must meet a certain weight requirement before shipping the items if you want credit for them.  TerraCycle pays 1-2 cents per piece that is recycled.  Twice a year checks are sent to schools and non-profits that have earned credit. Becky is willing to go above and beyond to do her dad proud!  “I sort the recyclables and store them in my garage until I have enough to send in.  My biggest challenge is finding large enough boxes to send in the recyclables!”

Students have readily jumped on board with their participation. “The students have done a great job recycling during the lunch periods.  It also helps when I have little contests to encourage the kids to remember to recycle.” The students can easily connect to the benefits of this program, “It helps earn money for the school.  I explain that the money is used for the playground balls, jump ropes, PE equipment, scissors in the classroom, all the “fun” worksheets they do, construction paper, art supplies, etc.” Of course, some kiddos simply understand they are doing something valuable, “Some of them also realize the importance of keeping trash out of the landfills as much as we can to help the planet.”

The different types of recyclables are organized into “brigades” and Becky is intentional about choosing brigades that are easily accessible for students during the lunch period. She also encourages students to bring in items from home. Currently, Bauerwood participates in five brigades, “The current ones are toothpaste/toothbrush products, Go-Go Squeez/squeezable fruit pouches, cereal bags/liners, personal care items [like shampoo, deodorant, soap containers, etc.], and snack/chip bags.” [Note: Unfortunately, Capri Sun discontinued their participation with Terracyle this year so Becky is currently on a waiting list for a different drink pouch brigade. Stay tuned!]

Since the inception of the Terracylce program at Bauerwood, the students have donated the following items:

Toothpaste tubes/brushes: 1194
Drink Pouches: 34,214
Go-Go Squeez/fruit pouches: 3431
Cereal Bags: 1112
Personal Care Items: 1299
Snack/Chip bags: 4841
Lunch kits: 401
Tape dispensers: 97
Glue containers: 469
If you’d like to join the Bauerwood brigades please bring your items to the bins in the lobby! If you’d like to inquire or start your Terracycle program, check out their website!

“I think it’s important for people to be conscientious about the impact we have on the environment and to do what they can to help preserve/protect it for future generations.  For example, I love going to the ocean, but don’t enjoy all the trash on the beaches.  It also allows the kids and the community to give back to the school in an easy, tangible way.  How easy is it to put your trash in a different container versus another?  It’s a simple way to earn money to buy the supplies necessary to continue providing a quality education for our most precious resource, our children.”

Thank you, Becky, for all you do for our Jenison students, teachers, and staff! We hope that our kids are taking what they’ve learned from this program into their daily lives and beyond!

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