Grant funds school recycling programs

Hennepin County awards money to district

Yonit Krebs

Hennepin County recently awarded the 2016 School Recycling Grant to the St. Louis Park public school district. According to district facility manager Tom Bravo, Hennepin County previously gave the grant to other schools.

According to Bravo, after applying last year, Park schools were awarded $22,500 to start district-wide school recycling.

“This district has been working on (recycling), but they haven’t had the money to get things going in the past,” Bravo said. “Our grant entails starting to get wastepaper baskets, and sorting tables and signage throughout this district.”

Bravo said he hopes to continue the trash reduction efforts of the Root and Shoots environmentalism club.

“The high school does have a pretty good team here, Roots and Shoots,” Bravo said. “What we’re trying to accomplish is more of the recycling and composting, and less trash.”

According to senior Roots and Shoots member Zosha Skinner, after finding out efforts to sort the recycling in previous years were ineffective, the club took a step back from recycling.

“The janitors were not sorting out that recycling at all,” Skinner said. “I would love to see recycling cans in the lunchroom. I think it’s really important for keeping students aware of the environment.”

Skinner said seeing recycling cans in the lunchroom again will force students to be conscious of the risks landfills and trash pose to the environment.

“We need to preserve our future and having a grant like that is just going to solidify the word that needs to be done to get to a place of decreased emissions,” Skinner said.

Bravo said his job is to ensure all the recycling materials are in place and in the future the district will be able to decrease it’s trash costs.

“Right now, according to Hennepin County, it costs quite a bit to throw out trash. If we recycle it, we can reduce the amount of trash and reduce the cost,” Bravo said. “We’ve already looked at trash and we’re $300 under last year. $300 is not a lot, but it’s a start.”

According to Bravo, in the future, Hennepin County hopes to begin recycling additional materials, such as paper towels and plates.

“Because the elementary schools, although it wasn’t 100 percent, had started recycling there, we mainly started with the middle school and continued with the high school,” Bravo said.

Bravo said Hennepin County gives this grant out to help school districts lacking the financial resources for an extensive recycling program. The grant’s ultimate goal is to create sustainable schools that will be able to continue recycling with their savings from reducing trash, Bravo said.

“It’s not just the recycling the custodians pick up and throw out; it’s everybody’s job to tell people ‘that doesn’t go there’ because we can’t monitor everything,” Bravo said. “So far we’ve probably spent $12,000-13,000 of the grant for materials, but we have until the end of next June to spend it all and get everything in place.”

Bravo said the goal of the grant is for school recycling programs to be at 100 percent in the next three to five years.