By Ainsley Layland
The Green Initiative Committee at Hilltop Elementary School in Mendham has kicked off the new year with a new recycling program. In an effort to take the school’s recycling policy to the next level, Hilltop has partnered with Terracycle, an upcycling and recycling company, to offer a location where students can recycle objects such as ink cartridges, packaging air pillows, and cereal liners.
According to the Hilltop Elementary website, Terracycle collects difficult-to-recycle packaging and products and repurposes the material into affordable, innovative products. Items like dry cleaning bags, ice bags, and newspaper sleeves are often thrown in the trash because the average neighborhood recycling doesn’t accept them. This new green initiative provides a location for Mendham families to bring those difficult-to-recycle items.
“The Green Initiative Committee is part of the H.A.S. (Home School Association) that also works with our middle school and high school,” said David Heller, principal at Hilltop Elementary. “They’re a committee made up of about three parents who focus on encouraging our students to be environmentally minded.”
He said, “Another initiative we participate in are the Walk to School Days, we have one in the spring and one in the fall, where students and staff are encouraged to walk to school. The class with the most walkers wins extra recess – we want it to be an eco-friendly prize so we feel that getting more time outside is a good reward.”
The students are playing an active role in educating the school on recycling and in raising awareness about the new initiative.
“The fourth graders are key stake holders in this recycling initiative, especially when it comes to the old school equipment. Each classroom has a box where students can recycle markers, plastic disposable tape dispensers, things like that,” Heller said. “The boxes were designed by one of our fourth graders and the students go around presenting to the same class once a month, talking about why we recycle and that same students comes each month so the class gets familiar with them.”
The school has encouraged recycling in the past but this new initiative has an added focus.
“This special initiative collects plastic bags, which you usually would have to take to a shopping center to recycle, but this one is through Trex. Once we donate a certain amount of bags Trex will donate a bench, made from reusable materials, to the school,” Heller said. “We want the students to see first-hand that you can make new things out of old recycled things so these initiatives are encouraging the kids to think about that.”
Trex is the world’s number one decking brand and the inventor of wood-alternative composite decking, according to www.trex.com. The decking material produced is made of 95 percent recycled materials.
“My biggest thing is constantly emptying the boxes because after a week the boxes are already overflowing with things the kids have brought in to recycle,” Heller said. “I just want to thank our H.S.A. for inspiring our kids to be better global citizens. They donate so much in time and money but investing in our kids and their knowledge of recycling and eco-friendly practices is priceless.”
For a complete list of recyclable items visit the new recycling initiative page on www.mendhamboro.org.