Blog : Making New Hampshire Beautiful Through Classroom Education and Outreach

By Katelyn | Sep 21, 2015 | in

School is back in session, but students aren’t the only ones returning to the classroom this fall. New Hampshire the Beautiful and the Northeast Resource Recovery Association are also heading back to schools across the state to teach students the importance of recycling and to implement lasting programs.

Through the School Recycling Club (the CLUB), both New Hampshire the Beautiful and the Northeast Resource Recovery Association work with students and educators to start and maintain new recycling programs or help improve existing programs to reduce waste and save energy in schools.

“What we really like about the program is that it’s an ongoing education that trains future generations to be more conscious of the environment and their actions,” said John Dumais, President and CEO of the N.H. Grocers Association and long-time member of New Hampshire the Beautiful's Board of Directors.

New Hampshire the Beautiful (NHtB) is a non-profit organization supported by members of the NH Soft Drink Association, the Beverage Distributors of New Hampshire Association and the New Hampshire Grocers Association. The collaboration between food and beverage companies has led to an array of programs to address litter and recycling issues and improve environmental awareness and education.

NHtB offers municipal recycling grants and signs, anti-litter programs, and technical assistance to recycling programs to any New Hampshire community that applies for funding. This includes funds to purchase curbside collection bins, balers, crushers, roll-off containers and other equipment that will help a community achieve higher diversion rates. NHtB is the primary supporter of the CLUB and funds their efforts to bring recycling to New Hampshire schools.

The NRRA, working closely with NHtB, adopted the CLUB in 2002, although it was originally started in 1998 as part of the New Hampshire Governors Recycling Program. The CLUB now includes more than 230 member schools in New England, over 85,000 participating students, and offers in classroom workshops and school technical assistance programs.

“The School Recycling Club was a natural offshoot from the NRRA because we wanted to reach out to schools - the communities within the communities,” said CLUB Coordinator, Gwen Erley.

Erley’s hope is to reach younger generations living within towns and cities throughout the state. She believes that by educating younger generations, the NRRA and NHtB will secure a more sustainable future for New Hampshire. Students, Erley notes, bring home the message of the importance of recycling and proper waster management. It’s a process that starts within a student’s home, potentially influencing change on their block, or in their community.

Originally founded by four New Hampshire municipalities in 1981, The Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA) provides up-to-date information and technical assistance on waste reduction and recycling for businesses, towns and educational facilities. Since then, the NRRA has grown to include more than 400 member municipalities across New England. The NRRA now provides cooperative purchasing programs, educational opportunities, and cooperative marketing programs, which aid small rural towns and large urban communities in managing their own recycling programs

While the NRRA began with a focus on municipalities and recycling on a larger level, the organization expanded to offer programs to schools within these towns as a way to reach the younger residents.

The CLUB makes it easy for schools to join the program and aims to expand their stretch to more schools across New England and beyond. “All New Hampshire schools are able to become members of the CLUB for free through NHtB. Schools from other New England states can join at the low cost of $.07 per student, however, membership is free if the municipality is a member of the NRRA,” said Erley.

While some residents may not recognize who is behind their school’s recycling program, New Hampshire schools, large and small, have relied on the CLUB for many years. Manchester Central High School became a member of the CLUB in 1999, Portsmouth High School in 2000, and the small Colebrook Academy, in the quiet northern town of Colebrook, has been a member of the CLUB since 1998.

The program serves as a centralized organization for teachers and students from grades K-12 to become more active in the world of recycling, while having fun and learning at the same time. The CLUB recently expanded to include a new member school; the White Birch Community Center Early Childhood Center, in Henniker, where educators teach children the value of recycling in their preschool and kindergarten classrooms.

The six workshops within the CLUB focus on varying topics including household toxins, the role of waste in global climate change, composting, and recycling. Each workshop runs for 40-50 minutes and can be tailored to fit the curricular and developmental needs of any class, grades K-12.

The NRRA’s school technical assistance programs focuses on the larger, school-wide level and big picture problems and solutions. These programs tend to take more time and have the largest impact with the entire school, students and teachers to janitors and cafeteria staff, participating. The technical assistance programs include an indoor air quality evaluation, STAR assessment for a comprehensive report on the school’s recycling and waste reduction, and perhaps the most fun for students - Trash on the Lawn Day. This thought provoking, daylong event assesses a school’s waste management issues and opportunities for improvement, while fostering student leadership. Under the CLUB’s guidance, students sort an entire day’s worth of trash generated from the school. The program enables students to physically evaluate how much recycling materials are left to be thrown into landfills and how they can incorporate composting and recycling programs at their school to reduce its waste.

The implementation of recycling programs in schools, and in municipal centers in towns, can be done at minimal cost. In many cases the municipality or school would not be able to afford the cost of recycling bins, signs, and program. Both NHtB and the NRRA help to offset those costs.

Click here for more information on the CLUB.

To learn more about New Hampshire the Beautiful, click here