PES recycling program continues to grow

Thursday, January 5, 2012
PES third graders Emma Graddy, Macey Williams, Natalie Brown and Phyllis Blankenship join teacher Carol Keys in collecting recyclable paper products

Third grade students at Piggott Elementary are learning about responsibility while setting an example for others to follow. The children, alongside third grade teachers Carol Keys, Kathy Coyle, Tammy Cashion, Marilyn Wellman and Karen Seal, volunteer to handle the school's recycling program.

While items such as cans and soda tabs have long been sorted separately and used for various projects, third graders work almost exclusively with paper products. Everything from old notebook and copier paper to newspapers and magazines are sorted by volunteers and then placed in their corresponding tubs. As the products accumulate over time -- generally about three months -- Mrs. Keys and her husband, Frank, load all the recyclables on a trailer and transport the collected items to the recycling center in Jonesboro.

The Keys have been a driving force behind the program, which is now in its third year.

"We had so much paper all over the place," Keys said. "It was everywhere. Instead of sending it to the landfill, we decided to start recycling it and make it something the kids could be involved with, if they wanted."

Through learning about recycling and the effects of waste on the environment, students have been lining up to be involved with the program since its inception.

"It's (recycling) better than just throwing it away," third grader Phyllis Blankenship said. "It's better for the planet."

"It's kind of a good citizenship thing," Keys said. "The students learn about the benefit of recycling and several of them want to help out. It's just something we see the need to do."

The Keys transport approximately 1,000 to 1,200 pounds of sorted paper each time they visit the recycling center. The couple makes the deliveries in their free time, typically on Saturdays. Their efforts stem from their willingness to make a difference.

"There's not much money for paper -- about $5 per load," Keys said. "That's not why we do it, though. By delivering it, we keep that paper out of the landfill and the paper can be used for other things."

While the third grade classes head up the project, the entire elementary school has gotten involved. Collection carts are placed throughout the hallways for teachers and students to place their unwanted paper items. These carts are collected by third grade volunteers who then take the items to the larger receptacles for storage.

The most recent collection of recyclable material was taken to the center in November. Keys said the next load will likely be ready in March.

"It takes a while to get a load ready to go, but every little bit helps," Keys said. "Hopefully, this is something the students will remember and continue to do throughout their lives."

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