Students at Willow Brook Elementary School in Oak Ridge were rewarded for their environmental efforts with $1,000 for having one of the top 10 school recycling programs in the state of Tennessee through the Good Sports Always Recycle, or GSAR, program.
Peter Blair and Christian Goethert from Willow Brook were recognized during an on-field presentation at the University of Tennessee vs. South Carolina football game, a press release said.
“We were so excited to learn that we were selected as one of the Good Sports Always Recycle school challenge winners,” Principal Lisa Light said. “We are proud to do our part in our community and are committed to teaching our students the importance of recycling. We are honored by this recognition and look forward to using this monetary award to strengthen our program.”
Willow Brook’s recycling program is a school-wide effort, with varying levels of support from every classroom, the press release said. Willow Brook is making efforts to educate each classroom to do their part by recycling in a “collector-friendly manner.” With these educational efforts, Willow Brook hopes the program to expand into other areas of stewardship through the students’ efforts.
Willow Brook recycles aluminum, metal cans, plastic containers, corrugated card-board, and mixed paper. The recycled materials are taken to the city’s municipal recycling center weekly. Willow Brook is also planning a phone book collection at the end of the year with a contest to see which classroom can collect the most books.
The GSAR school challenge, currently in its 20th year, judges Tennessee K-12 schools on how their recycling program encourages faculty, staff, and students to recycle, as well as the unique approach and overall investment applied to environmental efforts. In addition, one school is recognized with the Sustainability Steward award, which is given to a school that approaches sustainability by reducing their overall waste footprint through energy and water conservation, recycling programs, and the use of green space, the release said.
“As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the program, we look to the next generation to help lead the movement toward a sustainable future,” Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “These schools have implemented exceptional environmental programs and serve as role models for all communities.”
The GSAR school challenge judges Tennessee’s K-12 schools on how their environmental program encourages faculty, staff, and students to recycle, as well as the unique approach and overall investment applied to their overall environmental efforts. The Sustainability Steward award is given to a school that approaches sustainability by reducing their overall waste footprint through energy and water conservation, recycling programs, and the use of green space.
“Each year, we see entries from schools across the state that are doing amazing things in their schools and communities to help their environment,” said Anne Kilgore, director of global sustainability for Eastman Chemical Co. “We want to congratulate everyone who was nominated this year, and while everyone can’t win, schools that are teaching students about environmental stewardship are doing a service that is vital to our future, and we applaud your hard work.”
Kilgore said that she hopes the friendly competition among Tennessee’s K-12 schools will encourage other schools to start or ramp up their environmental programs. The school challenge has recognized more than 200 Tennessee schools and provided more than $110,000 for their recycling, environmental, and sustainability efforts.
This year’s Good Sports Always Recycle school challenge winners included: Hixson Middle School, Chattanooga; East Side Elementary, Chattanooga; Franklin County High School, Winchester; Portland High School, Portland; Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville; Lipscomb Elementary, Nashville; Three Oaks Middle School, Dyersburg; White Station High School, Memphis; and New Hope Christian Academy, Memphis. Additionally, Ivy Academy of Chattanooga took home the Good Sports Always RecycleTM Sustainability Steward Award.
“Not only does the GSAR program reach out to our state’s schools, it has spent the past two decades improving recycling efforts at one of the state’s most popular venues—Neyland Stadium,” said Ron Bonacci, Food City vice president of marketing. “Today, we can be proud that we have one of the largest and most successful programs in the nation.”
Along with the school challenge, the stadium recycling portion of the program includes more than 1,000 recycling containers that are placed in and around Neyland Stadium and the other sports complexes at the University of Tennessee. During the 2012 football season, UT recycled, composted, and donated more than 67 tons, resulting in a 36 percent diversion rate from the landfill. In 2013, the goal is to reach a 50 percent diversion rate, with hopes of reaching zero waste.
“Reducing waste at large events is a tough job to tackle, and the GSAR program has done a tremendous job over the last 20 years,” said Steve Lafollette, East Tennessee division vice president for Waste Connections. “We are proud to be part of this program, and we know as we look toward the future, the GSAR program will continue to evolve and encourage our schools’ efforts, as well as serve as a national example of a stadium-based recycling program.”
The Good Sports Always Recycle program is sponsored by Eastman Chemical Co., Food City, and Waste Connections, in conjunction with the University of Tennessee. It was established in 1993 at UT in Knoxville to encourage recycling of PET plastic cups and bottles at UT home football games. Today, the program includes all athletic facilities at the University of Tennessee.
GSAR includes a statewide educational outreach component that encourages Tennessee’s elementary through high schools to nominate their environmental program to be recognized as one of the Top 10 programs in the state and receive $1,000 for their environmental efforts. In addition, one Tennessee school is chosen to receive the Sustainability Steward award, which includes $1,500 for their continued environmental stewardship. The winning schools receive a commemorative plaque, a tailgate party, and recognition on-field at a UT football game. The program also includes an educational component (available online at www.eastman.com/gsar) that provides teachers with lesson plans and activities related to recycling and environmental stewardship.