Cleveland High School has maintained a 13-year student-run recycling service organization called the Environmental Awareness Association that has increased student and teacher involvement each year. This effort paid off, and Cleveland High School was named one of the top 10 school environmental programs in Tennessee as a winner of the 2012 Good Sports Always RecycleTM statewide school challenge. Each school was awarded $1,000 to enhance their environmental efforts, and the winners also attended a pre-game tailgate celebration and were recognized on-field during the game.
In 2009, Cleveland High School began partnering with Coca-Cola Refreshments, who provide several large containers throughout the building and outside for recycling all plastic, cardboard, mixed paper, and ink cartridges. The school’s recycling totals have steadily increased every year, with over 27,000 pounds of recyclables collected during the 2011-2012 school year.
“It is important in today’s society for our students to learn awareness and responsibility,” said Autumn O’Bryan, principal of Cleveland High School. “Cleveland High School is proud of the efforts of our students and teachers in the Environmental Awareness Association for being a leader in our community in its recycling program.”
The program has gained the involvement of biology and environmental science students who collect recyclables once per week, and the EAA students who then sort materials every Friday afternoon for Coca-Cola to deliver to the nearby recycling center. The recycling efforts are also implemented into the science curriculum, where students learn about the materials that can be recycled and the problems with placing them in landfills. With the funds accumulated from the recycling efforts, the Special Education Department plans to use the money to plant trees and shrubs for the creation of a new sensory garden for students. Cleveland High School hopes to expand their environmental program to include recycling at all school sporting events as well as involving the community at educational events around Earth Day. They also plan to create a recycling challenge with the local elementary schools to educate younger students about caring for the environment.
“It is remarkable to see the exceptional environmental programs that schools across our state have put into place. These schools serve as role models for other communities, as we strive toward a more sustainable Tennessee,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Robert Martineau. “Together, we can have a positive impact on our environment and help educate the next generation on the importance of environmental stewardship.”
The competition judged the schools on the impact their environmental program has on the community, their new and unique approaches to recycling and waste reduction, their overall environmental efforts, as well as the investments they have made, and will continue to make, in an environmental program.
Through the Good Sports Always RecycleTM program more than 80 tons of material were recycled at the University of Tennessee’s home gamesduring the 2011 football season. The goal for the 2012 season is 100 tons. The UT football portion recycling portion of the program includes 200 recycling bins along walkways leading to the stadium and 1,000 blue recycling bags in tailgate areas.
“The combination of the GSAR recycling component at UT and the school outreach during football season each year has created a truly unique program that unites students, fans, and the community in a fun and exciting way,” said Anne Kilgore, Director of Global Sustainability for Eastman Chemical Company. “We are continually expanding our focus and our efforts, and we want to encourage Tennessee schools to do the same, which is why we added our sustainability award this year. Schools are doing so much more to help the environment and their communities, and we wanted to recognize these efforts that are not simply focused on ‘going green,’ but those that are looking at the big picture to see what it takes to sustain a viable community.”
This year’s Good Sports Always RecycleTM school challenge winners included: Austin Peay Elementary School in Covington, Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Crosswind Elementary School in Collierville, George Washington Elementary School in Kingsport, Germanshire Elementary School in Memphis, Greenway School and Nature’s Way Montessori School in Knoxville, The King’s Daughters’ School in Columbia, Poplar Grove School in Franklin, Volunteer High School in Church Hill. And the first-ever Good Sports Always RecycleTM Sustainability Steward Award was awarded to Freedom Intermediate School in Franklin.
Over the last 19 years, the Good Sports Always RecycleTM program has awarded more than $100,000 to Tennessee schools for their recycling, environmental and sustainability efforts.