Coming soon: Green Team, recycling bins to Wilder-Waite

Chelsea Peck
Third-grade teacher Sarah Urbanc stands with the four large-wheeled bins, can crusher and individual recycling bins that she received through a grant from the county.

In the coming weeks Wilder-Waite Grade School will become more environmentally friendly.

After receiving a grant for $574.60 from Peoria County Recycling, third-grade teacher Sarah Urbanc used the money to order four large-wheeled recycle bins, a can crusher for the cafeteria and recycle bins for each class.

For the past three years, Urbanc’s classes have been interested in the environment from a section in their books.

“In reading, one of our books has a theme for recycling. The kids wanted to do something. The first year we adopted an owl from Wildlife Prairie Park. The second year they didn’t want to do that so they said, ‘Lets do something about recycling,’” Urbanc said.

Her students began brainstorming ideas. The list they came up with held ideas like reinventing the car and putting solar panels on the building.

Urbanc explained these lofty goals were not possible, so they then decided to introduce recycling to the school.

Urbanc contacted Peoria County to get started. She had to fill out an application, go to a workshop and choose the materials she wanted.

“Sarah expressed interest in expanding the program and really needed supplies. It was exciting that they wanted to open it up to parents,” said Rebecca Cottrell, recycling educator for Peoria county.

Sixteen schools applied for and received grants this year. If the organization attends a workshop about recycling they can receive up to $600, and $300 if they do not.

Urbanc has introduced the idea of a Green Team to the school and parents where third and fourth graders would go to each classroom to pick up the recyclables and empty them in a large, single-stream container outside.

“The idea is to have the parents pull in, drop off their kids and then pull around back and take out their recycling. It can be anyone in the community who uses the bins, not just Wilder-Waite parents,” Urbanc explained.

The volunteers on the Green Team will also do other environmentally friendly things around the school, such as planting flowers in the spring and cleaning up trash outside.

Urbanc said she wants to encourage parents to use the bins as much as the school does.

Information has distributed to parents through the weekly bulletin, which will be in again Oct. 15. Urbanc said the recycling containers will be passed out to classrooms Oct. 18 and any parents who do not know about the project will be informed at parent-teacher conferences Oct. 21-22.

“I think it will have a good response. We get a lot of families who are environmentally aware and conscious. We want to get the people who don’t want to mess with it at home involved with this,” Urbanc said.

Cottrell said she thinks this is a good time in students’ school careers to start good habits.

“If students are recycling at home then they’re looking for places to recycle at school,” she said.

“If they aren’t recycling at home, school is a great place to introduce recycling to them. It’s a good place to establish habits and help them to understand non-renewable resources and where they come from.”

Urbanc said she hopes to move into the cafeteria next.

“We use metal bottles for water and lunch boxes with silverware. My next goal is to work in the cafeteria to look at the things to change if we get the grant again,” Urbanc said.

Cottrell said if organizations show they are maintaining the program, they can get the grant every year.

Urbanc said about recycling, “When it became free you have to almost make a choice not to do it.”