The NRRA School Recycling Club

Northeast Resource Recovery Association

School News You Can Use – September, 2014


  • Club News – Welcome Gwen Erley
  • Students Making a Difference – Deepika Kurup
  • In The News – Great American Can Roundup
  • Activity – Make a Pine Cone Bird Feeder
  • Green Calendar

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Gwen ErlyNRRA is pleased to announce that Gwen Erley has joined the NRRA team as the new Programs Coordinator. Gwen will be taking over the NRRA School Recycling Club responsibilities and also assisting with outreach and media functions.  Gwen comes to NRRA with a life-long passion for recycling instilled in her by her mom, and she’ll be happy to share that story with you when you meet her in person or on the phone.  She spent the last eight years in the educational sector, creating and managing internships.  We are pleased to have her join us.  Welcome Aboard Gwen!


the_propagandaCLUB Shout Outs To:

Mason Elementary (Mason, NH) – They have already submitted points toward the T.E.A.M. Earth Challenge. These go-getters have an annual Recycled Art Contest with prizes being awarded on Nov. 15-America Recycles Day.

Woodman Park (Dover, NH) – According to Principal Patrick Boodey, “We just finished raising money through recycling to help partially pay for a new flag pole for our school. Next we will tackle our playground one piece at a time.”


NRRA CLUB applergclippedWould you like to host a TOLD, Garbage Guerrillas 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




News Release U.S. Environmental Protection Agency New England Regional Office August 25, 2014 Contact: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

Nashua, N.H. Student Honored by White House and EPA

BOSTON – A 15-year old student from Nashua N.H. was a recently awarded a “President’s Environmental Youth Award” (PEYA), given jointly by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and EPA. The Nashua student, Deepika Kurup, developed a green and sustainable method to purify water. Her project also increased the awareness of children and the general public in her community of how clean and safe water is an indispensable natural resource. The winning project was a light-weight photocatalytic composite that harnesses solar energy for water purification. Ms. Kurup developed a simple, fast and cost effective methodology where a composite degrades organics in water, and rapidly inactivates bacteria in sunlight, visible light or in the dark. Her project also developed several different prototypes for real world applications. She has filed a patent and plans to deploy her invention in places around the world that are affected by water pollution. “I am inspired to see such creative and promising work coming from one of New England’s younger citizens. The solutions to our environmental concerns need to come from all directions. Ms. Kurup’s innovative work, and that of the other PEYA winners, bodes well for a cleaner and healthier environment in the future,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “I have been passionate about solving the global water crisis since I was in elementary school, as I was exposed to the water problem at a very early age,” commented Deepika Kurup. “I believe that environmental education is very important, and I am very honored to be the EPA Region 1 recipient of the 2014 President’s Environmental Youth Award. The recognition ceremony held at the White House was an amazing experience, and I was delighted to introduce EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy!” The President’s Environmental Youth Award program recognizes outstanding student leaders in environmental stewardship. In a ceremony at the White House, 60 students from nine states across the nation were honored for their contributions to environmental stewardship. At the same ceremony, 17 teachers were also recognized for outstanding efforts to implement environmental education in their schools and communities. More information on the 2014 PEYA winners:


Mt. Abraham UHS Developing On-Site CompostingMt  Abraham Environmental Action Group- Trash on the Lawn Day 2013 “The Environmental Action Group is comprised of a small crew of dedicated students (shown above at T.O.L.D. last fall) who work to promote environmental consciousness through educating the Mount Abraham Union High/Middle School community. Our ongoing focus has been separating food from our cafeteria waste stream, and this summer we raised enough funds to begin building an on-site composting system. The facilities will be constructed this fall and will ultimately provide compost for our school garden. Thank you to the Vermont Community Foundation, Addison County Solid Waste Management District, Neat Repeats of Middlebury, and over 70 community members who helped us reach our funding goal! We are excited to move forward with this project.”  – Izzy Moody, MAUHS Environmental Group



Great American Can Roundup

AL-THE-CANRegister your school now at for the opportunity to win up to $6,000 plus the value of the cans. The Can Manufacturers Institute will be awarding $1,000 to the school in each state and the District of Columbia that recycles the most aluminum beverage cans per student between America Recycles Day (Nov. 15, 2014) and Earth Day (April 22, 2015). The national champion recycling school will receive an additional $5,000.

Check out your competition at to set your recycling goals and go for the win. Also, there is nothing in the rules to preclude collecting cans now to recycle starting November 15.

Does your school have any Boy or Girl Scouts? We have learned that scouts are recycling and using the proceeds for scouting activities, but would also would like to help the school with its recycling and rally others to catch the recycling spirit. This year, schools and scouts are encouraged to partner. The school can donate to a troop(s) verified pounds recycled during the GACR Scout Council Challenge from Jan. 15 to April 30. The caveat is that the Scouts have to help with the school’s recycling efforts, register for the Scout Council Challenge and the school and scout unit must reference the troop/school on their respective registration accounts. The scouts also can donate their verified pounds of aluminum cans recycled to the school. Sort of double dipping with each benefiting from the proceeds. Another plus for scouts is the time they spend assisting with the school’s Roundup, they can claim those hours as community service hours for their council. Attached is an invitation for the GACR Scout Council Challenge and the School Challenge.


 EPA News

EPA horizon Logo

Students: Go Green at Your School

1. Looking for homework help or activities about the environment? Visit EPA’s Student Center here:

2. Learn the basics and think like a scientist. Use EPA’s Student Guide to Climate Change to see the impacts and be a part of the solution. Find the interactive site here:

3. Working on an environmental project in your school or community? Apply for the President’s Environmental Youth Award. Applications are due December 31, 2014. Apply and learn about the 2013 winners here:

Teachers: Download EPA Resources for your Classroom

1. Help students learn about environmental health and empower them to take steps in their everyday lives to protect the environment. Download EPA’s curriculum Recipes for Healthy Kids and a Healthy Environment here:

2. Looking for more resources on the environment to use in your classroom this school year? Visit EPA’s teacher resource center to find lesson plans and activities here: Use this handy guide to find the top resources.

3. EPA recently announced the winners of the 2013-2014 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. The award recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students. The application period for the 2014-2015 award will be announced in Fall 2014. Read about the current winners and learn more about the award here:

School Administrators: Use EPA Programs for a Healthy School Environment

1.Take Action to improve children’s health at your school. EPA’s comprehensive schools website offers all the resources you need to establish, maintain, or enhance a school environmental health program. Find guidelines, studies, and other resources here:

2. Funding will be available this fall for school bus replacements under the 2014 School Bus Rebate Program. Learn more and sign up for updates here:

3. The School Flag Program alerts schools to the local air quality forecast and helps them to take actions to protect students’ health, especially those with asthma. Get started with the program here:



USDA Reducing Food Waste

Creative Solutions to Ending School Food Waste

Americans waste enough food every day to fill a 90,000 seat football stadium. Approximately one-third of all food is wasted at the retail and consumer levels.  While research has shown that food wasted by children is similar to the rest of the U.S. population, there are many ways schools can reduce food waste and teach students about the impact it has on the environment and in their community.

At Chesterbrook Elementary School in McClean, VA, every student learns how to separate waste into categories like recyclables, food to be donated, upcycling bins, and general trash.  The school’s Eco Team, run by sixth graders, ensures their fellow students are putting waste into the correct bin. The team then collects, weighs, categorizes, and places the food to be donated into separate refrigerators, provided by the Food Bus, a non-profit organization that works with schools to donate food that would otherwise go to waste.

At the end of the week, PTA members or community volunteers deliver the food to the local food pantry.  In the 2013-2014 school year, the 12 schools that work with the Food Bus provided 13,502.6 pounds of food to their local food pantries.  These donations included packaged peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas and apples, yogurt, string cheese, containers of apple sauce and sliced peaches, granola bars, and cartons of milk.  The milk is especially welcome by food pantries since they lack other reliable sources for the product.

“I’ve taken countless cartons of milk to pantries over the past two years and mothers have taken the milk out of the bags before I have put them into the pantry refrigerator and opened them there on the spot and given them to their children.  Milk is expensive.” says Kathleen Weil, founder of the Food Bus.

Food waste and recovery is also incorporated into science lesson plans.  But there are other important takeaways as well according to Weil, “the children in the elementary schools are not only learning how to not throw away their food and add it to the national waste stream, but they’re learning that it can be used by someone who is hungry.  They are getting a little spark of community service now that may have an impact in their life and the lives of the many people around them when they are adults.”

Generally, six to eight months are needed to set up a food recovery program through Food Bus.  The process requires arranging for equipment needs, setting up a volunteer system and building a relationship with a local food pantry. It also involves a review of county rules and regulations on donations.

In the meantime, schools can curb plate waste with simple changes to school rules, especially in the cafeteria environment.  Studies have found that serving lunch after recess can reduce plate waste by as much as 30 percent.  In the cafeteria, tactics like naming vegetables (i.e. “creamy corn”) can increase its selection by 40 to 70 percent.  Another study, from the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, found that introducing a “healthy options only” convenience line increased consumption of those nutritious items by 35 percent.  You can find other simple tricks tested by the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement.

There are many ways to reduce, recycle, and recover food waste in school cafeterias.  By implementing these ideas, schools play a vital role in scaling back the amount of food taking up precious landfill space.  More importantly, if a school uses food waste as a learning opportunity, it instills better habits in our young people and produces more civic-minded, community-conscious adults.

As Anne Rosenbaum, Science Specialist at Haycock Elementary School in Virginia says, “there are some kids who really have an affinity for the food donation.  They want to go to the food pantry to see how it works.  Their parents call in to help volunteer because the kids are so interested.  We laugh because our Eco Team and Eco Patrols get blue rubber gloves so that if they find people who have thrown something in the wrong bin they can put it in the right one.  They take their jobs really seriously.”

When your school implements a food recovery program or makes simple changes to increase consumptions and reduce food waste, you can share your story by joining the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.

Editor’s Note: Updated on 4 Sept. 2014 – USDA’s official estimate of food loss at the retail and consumer level remains 31%, not 33% as cited in the original infographic  (Buzby et al. 2014, The Estimated Amount, Value, and Calories of Postharvest Food Losses at the Retail and Consumer Levels in the United States, Economic Information Bulletin No. 121, 39 pp, February 2014).



pinecone bird feederPine Cone Bird Feeder

As the cold weather nears, now is a good time to think about our feathered friends.  Here is an simple project to make an environmentally friendly bird feeder:

Ingredients:  Pine cones (fully opened), string, peanut butter (or suet, shortening or lard), birdseed (fruit or nuts optional).

How To:  Spread some newspaper in the work area, pour seed into small pie or cake pan; wrap string around the pine cone and knot (long enough to hang from a small branch that the squirrels can’t reach); coat each pine cone with peanut butter; roll in the seed, pressing firmly; hang on tree branch and see how many birds you can identify!

Don’t Forget: The job isn’t done until the work area is clean and all the tools are put away!



09/28/14Funergy Festival – The Mt. Washington Valley Green Team is hosting their 5th annual Funergy Festival – “A hands on investigation of resource conservation.” Check out last years event at:

10/03/14P.L.A.N Zero Waste Conference – The Post-Landfill Action Network is hosting their first annual conference at UNH in Durham, NH. Details and registration information can be viewed at their website:

11/06/14Y.E.S. Summit – The Vermont Youth Environmental Summit for grades 7-12 will be held at the Barre Civic Center in Barre, Vermont. To learn more and register, link to and select “Programs.”

11/15/14America Recycles Day – An initiative of Keep America Beautiful (KAB), America Recycles Day is the only nationally-recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the U.S. For ideas, contact

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

04/22/15 – Earth DayTo 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.  


WHAT IS YOUR SCHOOL CLUB UP TO? The NRRA School CLUB always loves to hear what its members are doing to recycle and help the environment so we can share it with our other members. 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