Washington Elementary School honored for environmental efforts

Rick Wagner • Oct 29, 2012 at 9:56 AM

KINGSPORT — Washington Elementary School, in Kingsport’s part of Hawkins County, has been recognized and rewarded for its recycling efforts.

The school and the Hawkins County school system’s Volunteer High School in Church Hill were recently named among the top 10 school environmental programs in Tennessee as winners of the 2012 Good Sports Always Recycle statewide school challenge.

Each school was awarded $1,000 to enhance environmental efforts, and the winners also attended a University of Tennessee at Knoxville pre-game tailgate celebration and were recognized on field during the game.

Washington has a five-year-old recycling program involving a schoolwide effort of preschoolers through fifth-graders.

Together, they recycle paper, plastic and aluminum, filling up several 55-gallon containers per week.

For 2012-13, the school added recycling items such as plastic grocery bags used to make park benches at Bays Mountain Park and ink cartridges for additional school supplies. The school was the winner of a paper recycling program, and with the prize money it purchased more recycling containers for each classroom.

The school also integrates environment and recycling curriculum into each lesson plan, designed to be age appropriate, hands-on, and applicable to the real world.

From guest speakers, the students learn about subjects such as water pollution, the importance of using solar energy, the effects of topsoil erosion, and how human behaviors can affect the environment.

“Our school works very hard to encourage our students to be good citizens and be aware of environmental issues,” said James Jacobs, principal of Washington. “Life skills are part of each child’s experience. We really try to model the types of things we want the students to continue to do into adulthood. Recycling is made easy to establish a habit that will benefit our community now and in the future.”

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 Recycle program, more than 80 tons of material was recycled at the UT home games during the 2011 football season. The goal for the 2012 season is 100 tons. The UT football 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 Co.

The program is sponsored by Eastman, Food City and Waste Connections in conjunction with UT. For more information about the program go to www.eastman.com/gsar.

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