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Environmental efforts engage, educate
Schools, businesses bond for recycling
Biz recycle
Big Creek Elementary students collect juice pouches to recycle. - photo by Submitted
For about 15 years, Eva Selman has chaired Big Creek Elementary School’s environmental program.

“We nickname her Mother Earth, because she will recycle anything that stands in one place too long,” said Principal Sherri Black. “She’s added something every year.”

Such dedication from its staff earned Big Creek the right to play host to Keep Forsyth County Beautiful’s banquet May 13.

The annual program recognizes the hard work of the organization’s volunteers and sponsors.

It is one of several events this month that highlight the growing emphasis schools and business partners place on recycling and the environment.

Big Creek partakes in several environmental programs involving every grade level, said Selman, who this year got students collecting juice pouches to recycle.

“We have a bin in the cafeteria where students who bring lunches to school, if they have the Capri Sun-type packet, that’s where they put the packet,” she said.

“It’s not much, but we just feel like the kids need to know that is a kind of aluminum, other than cans, that can be recycled.”

The program is offered through TerraCycle, a New Jersey-based company that makes eco-friendly products from packaging waste.

Midway and Vickery Creek elementary schools have also participated in the program, collecting 2,432 and 15,310 units.

Schools get about 2 cents for each pouch and TerraCycle pays for shipping. But the money isn’t a factor, Selman said.

“Children today are the teachers of environmental issues,” she said. “They learn ... through environmental activities the importance of taking care of the Earth and recycling.

“It will make them more aware to really look at what products are made of when you start to make a decision about how to dispose of it, that it doesn’t have to go to the landfill.”

Spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo said all schools in the district “educate our youth about the benefits of recycling” and are “actively involved in minimizing our impact on our environment.”

Among the items recycled are aluminum cans, batteries, cardboard, ink cartridges, old athletic shoes with rubber soles and paper.

“Phone book recycling is one of your most popular student-led recycling events, as well as other programs, such as a plastic bottle recycling pilot at North Forsyth High School,” Caracciolo said.

“Plastics are very popular and were filling a majority of our garbage cans,” she said of North, the system’s largest high school.

Chestatee, Coal Mountain, Cumming, Matt and Silver City elementary schools plan to participate in a May 15 environmental spring festival put on by environmental services company Advanced Disposal.

Company spokeswoman Marci Kreager, a former Forsyth County commissioner, said the festival includes more schools every year.

“Next year, we’re hoping to add a few more,” she said.

Students will be judged for art and science projects created from recyclable materials.

Advanced Disposal will award about $15,000 in prizes, including a $5,000 grand prize for first place.

“We want to give back to the community that supports our business,” Kreager said. “These children, they’re future adults. They’re going to be consumers and we want to make sure they understand what we do and understand how to protect our environment.”