Update 3/5/12: Junk Mail Strategies list distributed.
Update 3/1/12: Rethink Catalogs and Magazines list distributed.
Update 2/29/12: Truth About Plastic Bags list distributed.
Update 12/11/11: Room 126 Takes Leadership in Rethinking Recycling
Update 12/10/11: Armatage EAT Taking a Bite Out of Waste
In August 2011 Hennepin County and the Solid Waste Management Board awarded Armatage Montessori a $12,000 Community POWER waste-reduction grant. The funds were used to provide a wealth of recycling curriculum for Armatage students—dubbed Armatage Rethinks Recycling—throughout the 2011–2012 school year.
The grant-writing process was spearheaded last spring by Armatage parent Sarah Linnes-Robinson and facilitated at Armatage by school social worker Julie Railsback, who was already serving as the school’s organics coordinator.
The Science of Recycling
At the heart of the Community POWER grant is the implementation of waste, composting, and recycling curricula in the classrooms. In October, for example, Ms. Railsback led each 4/5 class in a truly hands-on experience: an audit of the lunchroom bins. Working as reporters, observers, and, yes, diggers, the students undertook this messy task to determine how well the student body is doing with the organics recycling program initiated in the lunchroom during the last school year. Since then, Mr. Sievert’s 4/5 students have begun separating trash and organics in the classroom, with a special emphasis on paper towels—an item the students noticed were one of their biggest “trash” items, even though they are compostable.
Such student-led initiatives are one of the more exciting opportunities afforded by Armatage Rethinks Recycling. In fact, 3–4 student volunteers from each 4/5 class serve on a Green Team that meets once a week to discuss and problem-solve waste and recycling issues at the school—and by extension, the home.
Finally, in addition to individual classrooms, Armatage Rethinks Recycling is being integrated into Miss White’s science classroom, where students are learning through the process of vermiculture (worms!) composting how organics are broken down quickly, while non-organics and non-recyclables crowd landfills just as quickly.
The Art of Recycling
It turns out recycling and composting are not limited to science-related curriculum. Armatage Rethinks Recycling efforts are also being integrated into arts learning, both in Ms. Wells’ art classroom and around—not to mention outside—the school.
Next April as a part of Armatage’s community-wide Earth Day celebration, Sarah Linnes-Robinson will help facilitate a school-wide bottle-cap mural project in cooperation with Aveda Institute. Currently these items are not accepted by curbside recycling in Minneapolis—a fact of which it seems safe to assume most residents are blissfully unaware. A large mural created using these solid-waste objects as collected by Armatage students will make a dramatic statement about their impact on our landfills.
In addition, parents Hallie and David Bowman are in the process of planning a permanent outdoor art piece incorporating recycled materials and serving as a reminder of everyone’s efforts on behalf of Armatage Rethinks Recycling.
The Future of Recycling at Armatage
Thanks to these efforts and initiatives, as well as future plans for such events as fieldtrips to regional recycling facilities, Armatage students certainly have some interesting work—and learning—ahead when it comes to recycling and composting both in school and in the home. If families and friends are interested in becoming more involved with the implementation of Community POWER grant, please contact Julie Railsback via email or 612-668-3185, or Sarah Linnes-Robinson.
2501 W. 56th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55410
Telephone: 612.668.3180 | Fax: 612.668.3190