We all know this school year is going to look different than before, but there is one thing staying the same. Recycling!

With planning and some help from home our children will still continue to be able to help save the planet. And at a time when children are feeling confused and powerless, using the routine and self-reward of recycling can help bring some joy and confidence into their lives.

If your child is attending school in person, there are more than 30 schools in Whitfield County that are recycling paper and participating in a school recycling contest hosted by Target Recycling at School (TRS), a program of the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority.

TRS facilitates recycling by providing an outdoor container for paper recycling at each school. About once a week, or as needed, the container is weighed and emptied by the recycling truck. The material in the bin makes its way to the recycling center where it’s sorted and baled. Once the paper is in bale form, it’s sent with other bales to paper mills in Georgia that will make new paper products with old paper.

Target Recycling offers free workshops and presentations related to waste management and other environmental issues to all schools. We’ve been doing some fun virtual tours and even one that you can tune into. Visit Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful on Facebook to watch a tour of the recycling center with your children and learn right along with them! For teachers, call (706) 278-5001 or visit www.dwswa.org and click on “Education” to see our new virtual options and in-person options according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Schools can still have a successful program this year by using our five steps:

• Organize a team: Every school needs a recycling or green team and teacher coordinator. This could be a group after school or a special club. If your team is new, they can email me at ahartline@dwswa.org for tips on how to get started and even schedule a virtual meeting for their students.

Collect: Decide how often you will collect and if teachers will need to set their bins in the hallway or keep them in their classrooms. Make sure that teachers are reminded each collection day through email or over the PA system. If you are concerned about germs, give your collectors gloves for during the process and contact the recycling center if gloves are needed.

Educate: Get the kids involved in this step. Make sure parents, teachers and kids all know what can be recycled and how it helps create a better world.

Set goals: Help keep your students accountable by setting a goal each month for the recycling weight. TRS provides a monthly recycling rate report that teams can use to determine their goals.

Reward: It’s important to recognize people and even classrooms, whether this is five extra minutes of recess or keeping a box of small rewards like stickers and pencils to give out when a student is caught recycling.

Parents can also teach about the importance of recycling from the comfort of their home. Even if your child is attending school in person this year, it helps to practice at home first so they can feel confident about recycling in front of their peers. Practice makes perfect!

If you are homeschooling this year, consider adding in recycling to your daily or weekly routine. It can help create consistency and is a great life lesson throughout the whole year. If you are a parent, visit Recycling Ben on Facebook for weekly short lessons or videos that can help you teach all about recycling, the environment and nature using the Georgia standards.

Whether it’s at home or in the classroom, the routine of recycling and being rewarded for their efforts to help the planet can greatly increase the confidence of any child which is especially important at this moment in time.

Make sure you are keeping this element of your routine going this month!

Amy Hartline is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Have a recycling question? Contact her at (706) 278-5001 or ahartline@dwswa.org.

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