The NRRA School Recycling Club

Northeast Resource Recovery Association

School News You Can Use – December, 2014

 winter scapeINSIDE THIS ISSUE

  • CLUB News –RMMS – Filling the Earth’s Bucket
  • CLUB Conference Update – Call for Speakers
  • In The News – Annual NRRA Compost Bin Fundraiser Announced
  • EPA News – Peterborough Earns EPA Award
  • Activity – From Greeting Card to Gift Box
  • Green Calendar

Click here to view PDF



Richard Maghakian Memorial School

Filling the Earth’s Bucket

Brookline, NH –Richard Maghakian Memorial School (RMMS) hosted three Back to the Earth Composting Workshops for their third-graders on Nov. 5. Generous funding from the Brookline PTO was matched by NH the Beautiful to make this possible.

RMMS students are implementing a composting program in honor of former Environmental Education

CLUB Educator Cindy Sterling and RMMS Technology Teacher Katie Milewski beside Common Bond raised garden beds

CLUB Educator Cindy Sterling and Technology Teacher Katie Milewski beside Common Bond raised garden beds

teacher Mrs. Kathi Bond. It was Mrs. Bond who initiated their paper recycling program. Due to her inspiration, teachers take care of bottle and can recycling and Mrs. Dedecker spear-headed the building of a raised bed garden dedicated to Mrs. Bond, “The Common Bond Garden.” The garden will eventually be nurtured by the compost generated by the daily food consumption at the school.


Last year’s school theme was a “bucket filling.” Students were encouraged to treat others with compassion and kindness, thus filling each other’s buckets. This year they expanded the theme to “filling the Earth’s bucket.” Students are involved in recycling and environmental activities to treat the Earth with care and compassion.

Educator Cindy Sterling uses apple to illustrate Earth's arable land

Educator Cindy Sterling uses apple to illustrate Earth’s arable land

Using an apple to represent the Earth, NRRA School CLUB Instructor Cindy Sterling demonstrated how very little of the Earth’s surface is actually tillable soil, which makes it vital to reduce our waste and landfills. After a brief presentation on the compost cycle, she brought out composting worms and described their purpose.

The students were quizzed on compostable items. Several of the students were already experienced with home composting programs.


The third graders were encouraged to learn all about the composting program so they could train the younger students. In this way, the composting program can be sustained for years to come. Special thanks to RMMS Teacher Kathleen Milewski, who organized the workshops.

Educator Cindy Sterling explains how worms help in composting food

Educator Cindy Sterling explains how worms help in composting food

Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 27 percent of the US municipal solid waste stream. That’s a lot of waste to send to landfills when it could become useful and environmentally beneficial compost instead. Composting offers obvious resource management benefits and creates a useful product from organic waste that would otherwise have been land-filled. This workshop, available for all age groups, explains how composting works and how to make it work. If your school is interested in the environment, check out the School CLUB at

RMMS students take composting quiz to test their new skills

RMMS students take composting quiz to test their new skills



  compost food web











Nashua’s 2015 Recycling Calendar Contest


Nashua Poster Calendar Snapshot

Nashua’s 2015 Recycling Calendar Contest Winners

The City of Nashua’s Division of Public Works, Solid Waste Department has produced an annual recycling calendar poster for the past four years through a drawing contest for local schoolchildren. A different theme each year is introduced at the beginning of the school year, and twelve drawings by student artists are chosen by a panel of judges to be on the calendar, one for each month. Winners are acknowledged with prizes and a certificate signed by the Mayor at an awards program at City Hall in November.

Each year 2,500 copies of the poster are distributed to schools, other public buildings and to the families of the students. The project is financed by donations from companies that do business with the Solid Waste Department. Each theme of the contest – in 2015 it’s “Be Smart, Use a Cart … RECYCLE” – encourages people to participate in the NASHUA RECYCLES single stream program both at home and in the schools.




2015 School Conference Graphic

Can you believe the 2015 School CLUB Conference is coming up already?  That’s right – the date is set for June 9, 2015 and we are looking for your input and ideas. If you, or someone your know, is interested in presenting to educators and students at our conference, please check out the details at this link:

2015 School Conference Call for Speakers

Just keep in mind, the deadline for Presentation Proposals is January 30th, 2015, so don’t delay.

For your presentation to be considered, please email your proposal to Gwen Erley at and copy the email to or contact Gwen Erley at 1- 800-223-0150 x.19.



Award Nominations Being Taken


The School blue_ribbonRecycling CLUB’s 6th Annual Conference will be held at the Radisson in Manchester on June 9, 2015. This year’s theme is “Real Challenges-Real Solutions.”  Registration forms will be available shortly.

The CLUB is now accepting Award Nominations in a number of categories.  The awards will be presented at the 2015 Conference.  If you know of a worthy individual, school or group, please follow this link to the nomination form.  Deadline for nominations is April 1, 2015.





NRRA CLUB applergclipped

Would you like to host a TOLD, Garbage Guerillas or another Workshop at your school? Let the CLUB Help!

  • Improves academic performance, especially in science and math
  • Can lead to financial savings for schools
  • Decreases the school’s carbon footprint through practical solutions that reduce energy and water consumption
  • Reduces school waste and conserves natural resources
  • Encourages student environmental awareness and stewardship
  • Increases parental involvement
  • Helps students and teachers develop stronger relationships with their communities

Previous EPA EE-funded research at over 200 New England schools completed by the NRRA School Recycling CLUB (the CLUB) found that the single most challenging area for school recycling programs was in providing curriculum integrations that brought recycling and sustainability into classrooms to be used as the subject matter for meeting state and local curriculum standards.  The intention of the CLUB programs is to address just that issue in schools across all six New England states. Our goal is to use the CLUB’s workshops and technical assistance programs, all experiential and hands on, as a tool for educating K-12 students about consumption, proper diversion of waste, the resulting impacts on climate change and what they can do to change it.  Through these offerings, we are also afforded the opportunity to link these priorities to curriculum standards.  In addition, these workshops will model, for educators or community leaders, exemplary ways of teaching in creative, effective, and efficient methods about human health threats from environmental pollution as well as how to minimize human exposure to preserve good health. Click here to learn more or contact us at or call 1.603.736.4401 ext. 19




NRRA Annual Compost Bin Sale – Register NRRA compost binsNow for this Great Fundraising Event


Did you know?
*In 2012, 27.6% of waste sent to landfills consisted of food and yard waste, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The use of backyard composting systems by residents can divert this waste and help residents benefit from fresh compost.

* It is also possible to conserve municipal water supplies and cut household water bills by up to 40% with backyard rain barrels. Rain water, free from chlorine and water treatment chemicals, is an excellent water source for lawns, plants and gardens.

Now is the time to do your part to help the environment. Participating in NRRA’s annual compost bin sale is a great way to do this! You can either do a straight sale or use this as a fundraiser for your group or organization.
It’s quick and easy. Just go to

1. Download your participation packet (Compost Bin Sale Packet) and send us your participation form. Upon receipt, NRRA will send you a customized order form and poster that you can use to promote your sale.

2. Collect orders until March 13, 2015. Download group order form from the website and send to NRRA no later than 4:00 p.m. on March 13th.
3. Orders will be shipped directly to your group between April 13th and April 17th – in plenty of time to distribute for Earth Day!

Be sure to read the overview of the sale on the website for minimum order requirements, delivery and other important details about the sale.





National Wildlife Federation

Promotes Free Native Treestree-seedling

Trees for Wildlife is an educational program of the National Wildlife Federation providing adult leaders with fun, hands-on science-based activities to help young people learn about the importance of trees and how to plant and take care of trees for the future. This program aims to educate and prepare a generation of environmental stewards, expand the world inventory of trees and to protect and improve natural resources.
You can join us by organizing a tree planting and/or tree giveaway events in your community that will improve the environment and provide children and youth with opportunities to practice stewardship. Read the Guidelines and you may receive free native trees for your community event.
National Wildlife Federation through the generous support of donors and funders is able to provide native trees to groups to plant in their communities.

We accept applications on a rolling basis (no deadline) from schools, community groups and organizations to host a tree planting event that engages children and youth, a community tree giveaway or a combination event.  Before applying, please review the guidelines to see if you are eligible. Please note that we award as many trees as we can, but due to high demand, not all applications will be successful.
Apply Now! As of September 2014, applications are being accepted on a rolling basis, although applications must be submitted AT LEAST 90 days before the event date. Not Sure Where to Begin? It’s Easy as 1, 2, 3…
1) Find a location to plant trees – you can plant almost anywhere! A site can be your backyard your schoolyard, your community park or even a common area at your townhouse. Identifying a location to plant may seem difficult but by using our “how to” guide for planting – it will walk you through each step
2) Identify what type of native trees to plant – trees are either deciduous (lose their leaves in the Fall) or confer (evergreen). The type of tree that you wish to plant should fit the location for the future – think 10 years ahead – how tall it will grow, is there enough light and what is the soil like (wet, dry, mix). Do you need help to identify what trees are native to your area?
To assist you in identifying the native trees for where you live, please either review the list of available trees by state that you can order from NWF or consult the Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center and search by zip code.
3) Determine when you wish to plant and apply to potentially receive free native trees. Review the guidelines before you apply to determine your eligibility.

Available Resources

Sample Activities
Tree Care Calendar
Bonus Activities!
Tree Planting How to Guide
If you have questions or need assistance, contact Trees for Wildlife Staff at or 703-438-6177.
For Accepted Applicants, please use the following resources to complete your obligations for the donation
Press Release Template ( All accepted applicants must send a press release)
Upload photos of your event
If you are conducting a tree giveaway in your community, please use the these additional resources
• Tree Giveaway Pledge Card
• Tree Giveaway – How to Plant – Card
• Tree Giveaway sign in sheet (Email completed sheets to




 pine treeRecycling Your Christmas Tree


For those of you who celebrate the holidays with a live tree, I found this great tip from the National Christmas Tree Association:

Removing your tree

The best way to avoid a mess removing your tree is to place a plastic tree bag (available at hardware stores) underneath the stand when you set the tree up. You can hide it with a tree skirt. Then, when the holidays are done, pull the bag up around the tree, stand and all, and carry it outside. Obviously, you will want to remove the stand before recycling the tree. If some needles do scatter inside, it is better to sweep them up; as needles can clog vacuum cleaners.
For some great Christmas tree recycling tips, go to:



Grandparents Gone Wired

Another great promotion from our our friends at DoSomething.orgGrandparents Gone Wired pic

Teach tech basics to older adults and improve their quality of life.
40% of seniors don’t use the Internet.
That can leave many feeling depressed or isolated from loved ones. So, teach an older adult the basics — and wonders! — of technology!
Submit a pic of the two of you in action in the Prove It section. You’ll enter to win a $10,000 scholarship! Contest ends January 31.
AND, for each senior you teach, you earn another entry to win. So teach one senior and send a photo = one chance to win. Teach 12 seniors and send 12 photos = 12 chances to win. (And so on!)

For more information, go to:


The ABC’s of School Recycling Programs

Waste 360 LogoArticle from “Waste360” newsletter, by Will Flower

Recycling and schools are a natural fit. Schools have large numbers of people generating lots of waste—much which is recyclable. Environmentally, recycling reduces the amount of waste heading to landfills and incinerators. Additionally, recycling can reduce carbon emission and conserve natural resources. Economically, a school may be able to reduce the volume of waste they need to dispose of resulting in a reduction in the size or quantity of waste collection containers and service.
That said, everyone needs to understand that recycling is not free and a school may have to spend money to pay for the cost of containers and extra pickups of recyclables. Best advice is to work with a reputable local hauler who, in most cases, will help design a recycling program that is both environmentally sound and cost effective.
Steps to Implementation
Each year thousands of recycling programs are kicked off at elementary schools, middle schools high schools and even colleges and universities. New recycling bins are deployed with much fanfare and great enthusiasm. But before the first piece of paper is placed into a recycling bin, there needs to be extensive planning and logistics to ensure the school’s recycling program earns a passing grade.
The following are some of the basic steps associated with the startup and operation of a school recycling program.
Step 1: Identify who needs to be involved in the program. The list should include administrators, custodial and maintenance staff, interested teachers, students, kitchen/food staff, the current hauler, etc… A team can be formed to help support the effort and move the program forward.
Step 2. Identify all of the benefits and challenges of implementing the program. List how much the program will cost or save the school.
Step 3. Put someone in charge to facilitate. This person facilitates the entire process and communicates progress and challenges to the decision-makers. The recycling coordinator could be a janitor, teacher, administrator or a school club. The person in charge should have the skills to solve problems and work out logistics.
Step 4. Identify what material will be part of the recycling program. A waste audit should be conducted to determine the composition and volume of the waste materials at the school. With this information you can determine the portion of the waste that can be reduced, reused or recycled. A reputable local hauler and/or recycler can help you determine what can be recycled.
Step 5. Design a workable recycling program by getting input from several perspectives. Figure out who will collect recyclables and how often will containers be emptied. Identify the location where recyclables be stored (see Step 10). Determine if there are opportunities for students to be involved in the recycling process.
Get the school janitor involved early. The custodial staff will know what can and cannot work. The custodial staff is a critical part of the recycling program and need to have input into the design of the recycling program especially the collection system within the school. If this part of the program is not managed properly, recyclables may end up getting dumped into the waste containers or garbage may end up getting dumped into the recycling containers.
Step 6. Start small and grow. It is a good idea to choose one or two recyclables (such as cardboard and mixed paper) to start your new program. Once the program is functioning smoothly, you can expand the program to include more recyclable materials.
Step 7. Make the program simple. The recycling program should be simple and easy to use. Consider getting enough recycling bins to place one next to every trash container. Side by side containers give you the best participation rates.
Step 8: Educate, educate, educate. When ready to launch the program make sure everyone is aware of the program and how it works. This is the most important step for any recycling program. Use signs to make students and teachers aware of the program. Consider multi-language signs on the waste and recycling containers both inside and outside the school. Plan a big kickoff event for the program and provide regular updates on the school’s recycling efforts.
Step 9. Evaluate and review the program. Identify what works well and what needs to be improved. There is always room to improve every recycling program. Consider surveying teachers, students, administrators and other school staff to solicit ways to improve the recycling program.
Step 10. BE CAREFUL. Collecting and storing recyclables can be dangerous and requires special care. Follow these safety guidelines:
• Make sure stored material complies with local and state fire protection and building codes. Make sure the storage area has adequate fire suppression equipment.
• Never allow stored recyclables to block doorways or walkways.
• Recyclable materials should never be stored in boiler rooms or near electrical equipment.
• Make sure the room has easy access to move materials out of the school.
• Maintain good housekeeping and keep insects and animals away from the recyclables.
• Empty classroom containers regularly (at least daily).
Step 11. Celebrate the results. Let people know about their efforts. Give out awards to recognize outstanding individuals who help to make the program a success.
Will Flower is president of Green Stream Recycling in Long Island, N.Y. The company is focused on advancing recycling throughout Long Island.




Application Deadline for PEYA 12/31/14

Don’t forget: applications for the President’s Environmental Youth Award are due by December 31, 2014. Your project – or one you are sponsoring – could be an award winner. Encourage one or more K-12 students you know to apply for PEYA and see what a difference they can make for the environment with an award-winning project. Applicants from all 50 states and U.S. territories are eligible to compete for a regional certificate of special recognition and a national presidential award.





EPA Green Power Award


EPA recently announced the winners of the Green Power Leadership Awards, awarding 19 Green Power Partners and four suppliers. The Green Power Leaders were chosen from over 1,300 partner organizations that comprise EPA’s Green Power Partnership. The winners are recognized for their efforts in expanding the domestic renewable energy market.
From using enough green power to meet over 100% of electricity needs to installing on-site solar arrays or entering long-term power purchase agreements, these organizations are demonstrating that green power is both accessible and affordable.

Green power is electricity that is generated from renewable sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, and low-impact hydroelectric sources. Green power does not produce fossil fuel-based greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change. The award winners below are being recognized for their efforts in expanding the domestic renewable energy market. From using enough green power to meet more than 100 percent of electricity needs to installing solar arrays on-site or entering long-term power purchase agreements, these organizations are demonstrating that green power is both accessible and affordable.

Green Power Purchasing: City of Houston, Texas; City of Beaverton, Ore.; Town of Peterborough, N.H.; Herman Miller, Inc. (Zeeland, Mich.); Philadelphia Insurance Companies (Bala Cynwyd, Pa..); Steelcase Inc. (Grand Rapids, Mich.); REI (Kent, Wash.); Trek Bicycle Corporation (Waterloo, Wis.);June Key Delta Community Center (Portland, Ore.)
For more on the 2014 Green Power Leadership award winners, go to:






From our friends at the EPA Food Recovery Challenge:

Hannaford Pic

Case Study: Hannaford Supermarkets Move Towards Zero Waste

Hannaford Supermarkets’ Moving Towards Zero Waste Pilot Program in 2011 succeeded in increasing recycling rates and decreasing wasted food at eleven stores in Maine. These accomplishments paved the way for the chain’s plans to roll its Zero Waste Program out into all its U.S. stores. Founded in 1883 from a humble one-horse produce cart, Hannaford now operates 181 stores throughout New England and up- state New York. Hannaford is owned by the American subsidiary of the Belgian Delhaize Group, Delhaize America, which owns more than 1,500 stores along the east coast.

The areas that Hannaford zeroed in on were reducing and recycling food waste, recycling cardboard and plastic, and associate engagement in sustainability.


  • Waste decreased in volume by 30%
  • Average diversion rate of 79% at pilot stores compared to industry rate of 41%
  • Recycled 6,746 tons of food waste in 2011
  • Pilot success lead to leadership support to role out a company- wide Moving Towards Zero Waste Program in fall 2012

In-Store Eco-Team Rallying for the Cause

Stores formed dedicated Eco-Teams with a representative from each department (e.g. produce, deli, bakery) responsible for making sure their employees are composting and recycling properly. The Eco- Team helps educate other employees and meets regularly to discuss progress.

Building Awareness — Connecting with Co-Workers

One of the most important parts of the pilot was better communication and FRC Hierarchymore education in the stores about zero waste. Large communication boards were put in the break rooms of each store to explain the concept of zero waste, the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, what items in the store should be recycled, the roster of the Eco-Team and other related information. New signs were hung over composting and recycling areas listing the materials that can and cannot be recycled or composted. Signs throughout the store and in the back area remind employees about the zero waste program. This campaign also taught employees how to recycle and compost at home.

Recycling & Composting

Several steps were taken to increase composting and recycling rates:

  • Increased number of locations
  • employees can compost and recycle throughout stores
  • Manage plastic bag return program for customers
  • Suppliers encouraged to use packaging materials that can be reused or recycled
  • Fresh foods get shipped in various forms of packaging, and stores routinely send packaging samples to the Hannaford Sustainability team to determine if that specific material can be recycled.

These actions have resulted in:

  • Savings in waste hauling expenses
    Realization that most stores can access composting facilities for increased waste management savings
  • Increased employee morale on recycling and composting

For the complete story, go to:








GREENWorks Logo


From our friends at the NH DES, November 2014

Put the Environment on your Holiday Wish List

This holiday season, why not give a gift that keeps on giving in the form of energy savings? Check out our list of energy-efficient gift picks for just about everyone on your shopping list!

For the home decorator: One idea is to give flameless LED candles. SomeLED candle of these candles come with a melted wax look on the outside and a flickering light on the inside, so you don’t have to worry about actual dripping wax or open flames. These candles also can come with timer-controlled settings. While you’re in the holiday spirit, use LED lights for decorating the house or tree. ENERGY STAR certified LED light strands use 50% less energy than conventional incandescent lights strands. Not only do LED holiday lights consume less electricity, they are also cooler, safer and longer-lasting.

For the music lover: Some of the most popular new products are sound bars, wireless speakers and other gadgets with Bluetooth connectivity. Find one with the ENERGY STAR and your gift will not only be a hit, but will also be more than 60% energy efficient compared to other models.

Blue Cordless Drill in hand - illustrationFor the home improvement DIY-er: Cordless screwdrivers, drills, and saws – as well as cordless yard care tools such as lawn mowers, string trimmers, and shears – all use about 30% less energy with ENERGY STAR certified battery chargers.

For the well-groomed person in your life: Personal care products like electric shavers, hair clippers, and beard trimmers that use ENERGY STAR-certified battery chargers can save up to 70% compared to those with conventional charging systems.

For the movie lover: If your loved ones enjoy streaming movies or videos, did you know that tablets and laptops use the least amount of energy? battery chargerTablets that are ENERGY STAR certified use 10 times less power to stream than a game console. They use 7 times less power than streaming directly to your television and 6 times less than streaming to a desktop computer and monitor. If you are streaming to your large screen television you can still do so more efficiently. The newest ENERGY STAR certified TVs offer the latest technologies and popular features, including Smart TV functionality, Ultra High Definition and LED backlighting all at an energy savings of more than 25% over standard models.

Energy_starEnergy Star is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money, reduce energy use and carbon dioxide emissions through energy efficiency. When out doing your shopping, be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR label.

Share your #BestGifts with us on Twitter @NHDES.




EPA Releases New Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency Guidance for Schools

EPA recently released the new Energy Savings Plus Health: Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for School Building Upgrades, a guidance document designed to help schools reduce their environmental impact and ensure clean air for their students. The guidelines highlight best practices for addressing 23 critical indoor air quality topics, including moisture and mold control; hazardous materials such as asbestos and lead; building products and materials; and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Read Acting Associate Administrator Janet McCabe’s blog post on how the guidelines can help schools improve air quality and energy efficiency here.






From Greeting Card to Gift Box


By Noreen Doll, Crafty Journal

Gift box packaging is easy when it requires only one greeting card to create it!

The front of the card becomes the lid, and the back of the card becomes the box bottom.


This small handy gift box can be used to hold small gifts, a gift card, or money that is rolled or folded to fit.

Using a large card to make a lidded box works best unless you want a really small box.

You can use double sided tape to attach the ends, or do as I do and put a bit of glue on each of the flaps and glue the ends. This is a more permanent way to do it, and will allow you to reuse the box many times.

These boxes came from the same size card. On one I made the sides 1 inch deep, and on the other the sides are 1/2 inch deep. Notice that the 1 inch deep box has smaller dimensions.

What You Need

1 Greeting card or Christmas card




Scoring Tool

White Elmers Glue or Double Sided Tape

Clothespins (to hold flaps while glue dries)

What You Do

1. Cut the card in half along the fold.

2. Using a ruler on the card front, measure in 1 inch from each edge and score.

3. Fold on all the score lines toward the plain side of the card. Cut on the red cut lines.



4. Measure and score the back of the card for the box christmas-card-box-top-box-bottom-patternbottom, measuring in 1 and 1/16 inches from each edge. This will make the bottom slightly smaller than the top so the lid will slide on easily. (See photo above.) Put a drop of glue on one of the flaps and fold the edge up as shown. Use clothespins to hold the flaps while the glue dries. Repeat with the other flaps.

5. Glue the flaps on the other end of the box top. When the glue is dry the box is ready to be used.


You don’t have to use 1 inch or 1/2 inch for the sides of your box – you can make them any depth you like.

Use this easy gift box packaging idea for making a larger box using large pieces of regular cardboard or card stock.

For complete instructions, go to:


For other great recycling craft ideas, go to:



03/22/15 – World Water Day – To plan your event, see future newsletters and visit

04/22/15 – Earth Day – To plan your event, see future newsletters and visit

04/24/15 – Arbor Day – To plan your event, see future newsletters and visit

06/05/15 – World Environment Day – To plan your event, see future newsletters and visit

06/08/15 – World Oceans Day – To plan your event, see future newsletters and visit

06/09/15NRRA School CLUB Conference – The conference within the conference celebrates schools and students with activities and awards. It will be held at the Radisson in Manchester, NH. Details coming in future newsletters.  


snowflake greeting

WHAT IS YOUR SCHOOL CLUB UP TO? The NRRA School CLUB always loves to hear what its members and other schools are doing to recycle and help the environment so we can share it through our newsletter. There are so many different things being done, and you are our best source of information about what is working in your school. It can be a new program, a long-term project that’s been proven over time, a field trip, etc. Always feel free to contact me or submit something and you may see it in the next School News You Can Use! – Gwen Erley 1.603.736.4401 ext 19