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Golden Crescent recycling school program spans counties

By By Marie Lester
July 12, 2012 at 2:12 a.m.

Marie Lester

Americans throw away millions of tons of recyclable materials each year. Schools contribute to this waste stream significantly. Have you ever noticed how much paper children bring home from school? Work sheets, coloring sheets, cute construction paper thingamabobs ... all of these items are recyclable.

Schools in Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Gonzales, Jackson, Lavaca and Victoria have the opportunity to recycle as part of the Victoria Kids Recycle and Golden Crescent Recycling programs.

The city of Victoria Environmental Services Department started VKR, a single-stream recycling program for Victoria schools, on just three campuses in 2006. The program is now thriving on 27 Victoria campuses.

The success of VKR gained recognition from the Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission. As a result, the commission asked environmental services to partner with them to expand VKR to seven additional counties. Thus, GCR, VKR's sister program, was formed.

GCR is a network of school recycling programs tailored to fit the needs of each participating community. Since 2010, it has been implemented at 22 campuses - with 33 more to go in 2012. GCR provides all the amenities needed to recycle on school campuses including recycling bins, recycling trailers, curriculum, training, promotional items and informational materials.

The commission has provided $77,000 to date for GCR and the city of Victoria's environmental services department has provided $45,000 in in-kind funds/services.

Thanks to VKR and GCR, school recycling is now:

•  Single stream in many communities.

•  Available for pre-k through 12th grade.

•  On 49 campuses (working towards 82)

•  In 10 communities (working towards 23)

Environmental services' goal is to have successful, sustainable recycling programs on school campuses in 23 communities, on 82 campuses, serving 35,698 students by the end of the 2012-13 school year.

Victoria schools have recycled 470 tons of recyclables since 2006 - 120 tons of that in 2012 alone. GCR doubles the number of students who have access to recycling every day ... thus we expect to see about 240 tons of recyclables generated by schools in the seven-county area during the 2012-13 school year.

One of our favorite things about the GCR is our friend Ray Cycle the recycling raccoon (he's a cute fluffy puppet, and he doesn't bite). Ray Cycle is kind of a super hero around here. He knows a lot about trash - but he really loves recycling.

He comes to life when our environmental teen group, Team Lorax, puts on a puppet show. They use the Ray Cycle puppet and a recycling bin to teach recycling in a way that engages the audience. Ray's repertoire includes bookmarks, stickers, coloring sheets and comic sheets.

Ray's lesson helps us draw the big picture about the environment. Raccoons live in the great outdoors and are helpless when it comes to "fixing" their environment. Humans affect the air Ray breathes, the water Ray drinks, the land Ray lives on ... and he can't do anything about it.

But the kids at our recycling schools can, and we can. Recycling is more than just putting your trash in a separate bin and watching a truck take it away. It is about saving natural resources, using less stuff and putting litter in its place. Ray teaches us that recycling is just one of the many smart environmental changes we can make to protect our planet.

Check with your child's school to see what they are recycling.

For more information about Victoria Kids Recycle or Golden Crescent Recycling, contact Marie Lester, Environmental Programs Coordinator for the city of Victoria's Environmental Services Department at 361-485-3230 or environmentalservices@victoriatx.org.

Marie Lester, is the Environmental Programs Coordinator for the city of Victoria's Environmental Services Department. You may contact her with topic ideas, inspiration, questions and comments at cmlester@victoriatx.org.

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