Recycling Champions

A partnership between GrowNYC and the NYC Departments of Education and Sanitation, the Recycling Champions program develops model school recycling programs and best practices at K-12 schools across the city. By educating and engaging students, staff, custodians, and parents, Recycling Champions helps make recycling an easy part of every school day. This year, dozens of schools had the opportunity to improve recycling by working with one of five new Recycling Champions outreach coordinators.

More NYC students and staff than ever before had the opportunity to improve recycling in 2013 through Recycling Champions. 38 schools participated in spring 2013. 1,500 faculty experienced new professional development workshops, 1,000 custodians were trained, and over 10,000 students learned how to make NYC greener in classrooms and assemblies.

The Big Lift 

big liftOur 2013 spring “Big Lift” six-week long contest challenged the 38 schools in the program to see how best practices changed their recycling rates. 22 schools participated – where they weighed the recycling and trash from classrooms, offices, and cafeterias once a week to measure change in recycling habits.  4,444 pounds of metal, plastic, and cartons were recycled during the contest – an increase of 45%. In addition, a staggering 19,514 pounds of paper were recycled during the Big Lift, and paper recycling rates increased by an average of 70%! By recycling this paper instead of sending it to landfill, these schools helped NYC avoid the emissions of 9.35 tons of CO2 equivalent into our atmosphere.

The winner of the Big Lift was P.S. 154 Queens, who increased their recycling rate by 268% and averaged a 54% combined recycling rate! “Participating in the Big Lift was an amazing experience for our school community.  We believe that school recycling is extremely important and starts with our students.  If students are excited about recycling, they can get the entire community involved and they have at P.S 154” said Principal, Tara Davidson.

Big Lift Winner – PS 154 from GrowNYC on Vimeo.

It Takes a Village 

During the spring 2013 semester, 419 students along with faculty, administration, and custodians at It Takes a Village Academy (ITAVA) in Brooklyn, participated in Recycling Champions.  ITAVA became a leader in school recycling by engaging a key group of 55 students in hands-on workshops during science and Spanish classes, taught by our outreach coordinator Kristal.  As a leadership project, these students helped setup new recycling bins in every classroom and the cafeteria, while also educating staff and their peers on what and why to recycle.  ITAVA’s Sustainability Coordinator, Michael Ashkenazy, developed and incorporated a Green Curriculum into classroom lessons with the help of Recycling Champions, and led students to paint a mural at the school dedicated to NYC’s environment.

Click HERE to learn more about Recycling Champions.