Green initiative focuses on school supplies

Delaware Ridge Elementary School first-grader Nicole Mosburg, 6, looks for a crayon in the free supply bin located in the school’s office. The supply bin contains school supplies that have been partially used but are still in working condition. The DRE Parent Teacher Organization started the bin as a way to teach students about cutting down waste. Enlarge photo

September 30, 2010

Students at Delaware Ridge Elementary School are learning to conserve resources — whether it be a broken crayon, a notebook missing half its pages or a pencil without an eraser — one school supply at a time.

In another green initiative from the elementary school, the DRE Parent Teacher Organization has created a used supply bin where school supplies that are still in useable condition can be taken by students free of charge rather than thrown away.

“It’s been the goal of our PTO and the school to do more recycling and be greener and more energy conscious,” said Janet Crouch, president of the PTO. “And one of the biggest ways to go a little more green is definitely to be conscious of waste.”

While the school is “doing a great job” of reminding students and staff to turn off lights to rooms not in use and recycle paper, Crouch said, the PTO was looking for another way to save on resources and also save on parent expenses.

Crouch said at the beginning of the year, each student and parent is given a list of school supplies to purchase for the upcoming year. This list can often be quite long, Crouch said, and includes supplies that may have been purchased last year and have now disappeared into a junk drawer and forgotten.

“Instead of sending home notes to parents of more supplies to buy because their students have used up all theirs, (the students can use the supply bin),” Crouch said. “If it’s in the bin, it’s theirs for the taking.”

The bin and another storage closet for teacher use will also be supplemented by discounted school supplies PTO members come across throughout the year.

“We started seeing you could get items at discounts after the school supply season was over,” Crouch said. “We decided to buy those things up and start supplementing school supply boxes and save parents money in the long run. We want to make it easier on the families financially.”

The initiative started at the end of the last academic year when notes went home to parents asking them to put their used school supplies into bins set up in the school’s office and at various school events. The result now makes up a large station in the office with several small tubs each containing a different type of school supply.

Crouch said the school supply idea was about teaching students about conserving resources and recognizing when an item still has usefulness.

“If a crayon breaks, students think it’s worthless and throw it in the trash,” Crouch said. “Obviously that isn’t true. A broken crayon works just as good as a new crayon.”

Crouch said the PTO also recommended the idea for the used supply bin to officials at Clark Middle School and it could soon find its way into other schools.

In addition to the supply bin, Crouch said the PTO had several other ideas for making the school a little greener. She said the PTO was looking into purchasing equipment like a crayon melter that could be used by the school’s art teachers to help students make new crayons out of broken ones.

The PTO is also making plans for a “Go Green Week,” where the entire school would learn about ways to be kinder to the Earth for an entire week, culminating on Earth Day in April.

“These are some ways as a PTO we can contribute in our own way,” Crouch said. “We live in a disposable society. Everything we have is disposable. We have to change people’s perceptions that if something isn’t as new, bright and shiny, it doesn’t have value any more.”

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