Parents push to expand recycling efforts
Sarah Truszkowski sees her children’s school generating a lot of unnecessary waste, and hopes the Regina public school board will hear her ideas for fixing the problem.“They don’t recycle plastic at all. It’s just paper, all paper . ... There’s a lot more that can be recycled, and they’re just not doing it,” said Truszkowski, whose three children attend Ecole Connaught School.Truszkowski and her friend Samantha Bromm, who has two children attending Ecole Massey, plan to address the school board about the issue at Tuesday’s public board meeting.There are more than 25,600 students and staff working in 54 Regina Public School Division properties, during a 195-day school year.They all recycle paper and cardboard through Crown Shred & Recycling. Non-paper items are recycled on individual schools’ initiative.Division spokesman Terry Lazarou said some schools request that students take lunch-related packaging home with them. Some schools recycle cans and Tetra Paks to raise funds.At Connaught, Truszkowski said one teacher collects and recycles used markers.“I don’t think it is the best we can (do). I think we can do more,” said Truszkowski.She hopes the school board can “create new policies” to effect some “simple changes that can improve what we’re doing.”There is a policy in place already, which was last updated in February 2014.In its sustainability policy, the board “understands its fundamental responsibility to be environmentally sustainable” and “acknowledges it has a responsibility to educate students and provide opportunities for staff, to develop social responsibility, ecological literacy and sustainable behaviours and actions.”In each classroom, staff room, office or otherwise, Truszkowski suggests adding an extra bin for recycling, just as there’s a trash bin.She also suggests encouraging students and staff to reduce their own waste — using reusable containers or cups to hold food and drinks, and cloth bags instead of plastic.She recognizes it could mean a “change of habit” for students and staff, along with some education about what and how to recycle.“Have two kids from every class bringing out that collection,” she said. “It might add an extra two minutes of something to do, but it’s got to be put into our lifestyle, because the amount of plastics that we’re going through and piling up in the landfill is just awful.”Through residential curbside recycling, Regina residents divert approximately 20 per cent of household waste from landfill.“If people in the school community, meaning students and/ or staff, or even the school community council, wanted to be involved in this, there’s no reason to not do it,” said Lazarou. “So long as it doesn’t create issues ... with respect to ensuring the curriculum gets achieved, with how much time there is available to do other things in the school that are regimented.”Sustainability is part of the provincial curriculum, specifically in science.In each grade, the curriculum mandates that students “experience opportunities to contribute positively to the environmental, economic and social sustainability of local and global communities.”As early as kindergarten, children are supposed to “demonstrate environmentally-responsible behaviours in the classroom and school (e.g., recycle and compost).”Rick Haddad, commercial business manager for Crown Shred & Recycling, said it’s a “pretty minor fee” to change a contract from just “fibre” (paper and cardboard) to a single-stream service that collects all recyclables (including plastic).That could create more volume, however, which would cost more in pickup and processing fees.“If we come out once every week instead of once every two or four weeks, it’s going to cost you a little more money,” said Haddad.“But in the same respect, that’s also stuff that you’re not throwing in your dumpster now, so it kind of offsets, because otherwise, you’re paying to get it hauled away by a garbage company and paying landfill fees.”Lazarou said schools could experience an “accumulation of bugs and rodents” if recyclables pile up. Both Crown Shred and the City of Regina advise people to rinse items before recycling.“The biggest thing is to change the mindset around our waste and to change our culture and the habits about, ‘We can do this. We can rinse out our yogurt containers and then put them in a bin. We can collect more often,’ ” said Truszkowski.“Just sort of changing our minds from, ‘It’s going to be too hard, we can’t do this,’ to, ‘What can we do?’ I think that’s going to be the first biggest step to making some changes.”
Sarah Truszkowski wants to see Regina Public School Board schools, including Ecole Connaught School where her kids attend class, expand recycling efforts. She thinks adding more recycling bins and encouraging students and staff to reduce their own waste is a good place to start.
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