Fact: Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a television for 20 minutes. Or, to the preschool students at Haines Elementary, enough to broadcast one full episode of Dora the Explorer.
In an ongoing effort to keep Chicago green, city officials are actively engaging with CPS students to encourage recycling at school and at home. The first stop in this outreach campaign was Haines Elementary, where Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams and Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz visited preschool and kindergarten students in celebration of America Recycles Day.
“I was thrilled to be invited to Haines Elementary School to talk with these bright young recyclers,” said Commissioner Williams. “Mayor Emanuel completed the expansion of citywide Blue Cart recycling, and now the City is working to engage all Chicagoans, ages 4 to 94, in this important and easy-to-use program.”
CPS schools use many recyclable materials every day, including plastic, paper, cans, drink boxes, milk cartons and glass, thus all District-operated schools have dumpsters dedicated to recycling.
“We are teaching a unit on reduce, reuse and recycle, because we want to instill a sense of responsibility in our students to take care of our Earth,” said Haines Pre-K teacher Sharon Olejniczak. “It is our hope that through this curriculum, the students will also encourage their families to recycle.”
On America Recycles Day, the students at Haines learned not only about how important recycling is to the environment, but about how critical it is that they recycle correctly. For example, no liquid or food should be tossed into the blue recycling cart at home or the blue dumpster at school.
“When recycling becomes a normal, everyday activity at school, students are more likely to recycle at home and encourage their parents to do the same,” said CBOE Vice-President Jesse Ruiz. “With the City expanding residential Blue Cart Recycling citywide, CPS schools can work together with the program to make recycling a tradition at school and at home.”
This Recycling Day event was just the latest in a string of “green” projects at Haines. In early October, the school held a “Waterpalooza” festival to teach students about the water cycle and celebrate Haines’ newly-installed rain garden. Once a patch of unused concrete, the rain garden contains native grasses and shrubs that will absorb rainwater that would otherwise be diverted into Chicago’s sewer system.
”Many students are not aware of where water goes after it rains,” said Jih-ChiunLee, a computer teacher at Haines. “This garden will be a hands-on way for them to learn about water conservation and the repurposing and redistributing of storm water.”
Located in the heart of Chinatown, Haines installed the rain garden on the back half of its school playground – an outdoor space that they are working to transform into a park to be used by the entire community.