'Green team' of dumpster diving kids diverting recyclables from garbages in Regina

Abby Tetlow says that if everyone paid special attention to making sure they were recycling properly, it would make a big impact on landfills.

Students at Douglas Park Elementary School spend their recesses digging through the garbage

The Douglas Park Green Team gives up their recesses in rain or shine to stay indoors and rinse plastics to be recycled. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

While most kids are playing outside and taking a break during recess, Abby Tetlow puts on her gloves, moves back her hair and starts digging through garbage.

The Grade 6 student does this every day, along with a dozen others, as part of the Green Team at Douglas Park School in Regina. 

The student-led initiative has them trying to divert recycling from the garbage. It started after students noticed lunchtime recyclables going in the trash. 

Abby Tetlow is one of the students from Douglas Park School who gives up their recess to sort recycling out of garbages and bins. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

"Students came with an idea of taking action in their community," Nicole Putz, a Grade 4/5 teacher who supervises the green team, said.

The idea came from a sustainability unit that is part of the Grade 5 curriculum,

"It made me really proud of them," Putz said. "I'm proud of them every day for giving up their recesses to go around pick up all the bottles and dumpster dive and I love it."

Nicole Putz (left) is a Grade 4/5 teacher at Douglas Park Elementary School and Allison Tetlow (right) is a parent volunteer with the green team. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Allison Tetlow helps rinse juice boxes and more as a parent volunteer of the group. She said a large amount of recyclables have been diverted from landfills from this green team alone. 

"I wish we could weigh it," she said. "It is extraordinarily."

Juice boxes are one of the items that people don't know they can recycle and get money for at Sarcan, Abby Tetlow said. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

The team spends about 20 minutes cleaning out recyclables, rinsing them and sorting them properly. They're also hoping to make Youtube videos to help educate other kids.

Putz described one particular moment that opened her eyes. 

"The students were emptying the recycling bins and the garbage is in the staff room and we were actually surprised to find out that staff were culprits in some of these recycling fails," Putz said with a laugh. "It also helped to educate everybody in the building."

Pudding cups are one of the few plastics that can't be recycled, Grade 4/5 Teacher Nicole Putz said. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Starting the team was an easy process, Abby said. The students learned that they could take the recycling and put it with the paper recycling, meaning no extra cost to the school.

Students from Douglas Park Elementary School clean the recycling bins each day to help encourage people to use them. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Abby said people should know that people can get money for juice boxes and many other items don't belong in the trash. 

"I hope that our school will be known as a really eco-friendly school and I hope that lots of people are going to remember us starting the green team," Abby said. "It will help the earth and the future for future generations."

She said she hopes other schools will take on similar projects.

"If everyone did it then it would really make an impact on all of the landfills."

The Douglas Park Elementary School's green team organizes themselves each afternoon recess to dig through garbages and recycling and sort everything to the best place. (Heidi Atter/CBC)


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