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Haller students recycle for Nature Conservancy

From left, Haller Middle School students Arielle Canlas, Ashlynn Low, Heleena Horrer, Chase Roskelley and Nathan Aune are all members of the school’s P3 club, which collects juice pouches and sends them off to be recycled. - Adam Rudnick
From left, Haller Middle School students Arielle Canlas, Ashlynn Low, Heleena Horrer, Chase Roskelley and Nathan Aune are all members of the school’s P3 club, which collects juice pouches and sends them off to be recycled.
— image credit: Adam Rudnick

ARLINGTON — Nathan Aune and Chase Roskelley initially wanted to be in the TV land club at Haller Middle School.

“That’s what we signed up for, but there were no spaces left,” said Aune, a seventh-grader at the Arlington school.

So the two students signed up for the newly formed P3 club during the school’s annual sign-up day and so far they’ve been glad they did.

In an effort to get more students involved with recycling, Haller counselor Jane Vilders and sixth-grade teacher Leona Watson started the club in September.

The 10 students in P3, which represents the interests of people, the planet and peace, collect foil juice pouches and send them off to New Jersey-based company TerraCycle.

The company then turns the recycled goods into clothing, shoes and other items. Those items are then sold in major retailers, such as Target, Walmart, The Home Depot and K-Mart.

“They make backpacks, shoulder bags and other things out of juice boxes and pouches,” Vilders said. “They give us two cents for each pouch, and we’re donating the proceeds to the Nature Conservancy.”

Students are asked to fill up marked containers after their lunch. The school also has glass, paper and plastic recycling containers for students to sort their waste in.

Then, the group of Haller students, which includes sixth and seventh graders, meets each Friday to collect and clean the pouches that other students place in boxes throughout the week.

“You first cut a hole in the bottom, then it’s kind of an assembly line,” said Heleena Horrer, a sixth-grader. “We all have our assigned jobs.”

Aune said that other students in the school took some time to understand the sorting process. The club members began collecting pouches shortly after school began in September.

“When we first started there was pepperoni pizza in the box,” Aune said.

But after a few months of training, most of the school’s students started to understand what types of items P3 club members are looking for.

“We don’t want juice boxes — we want foil pouches,” sixth-grader Ashlynn Low said.

In addition to cleaning the pouches, club members also make posters to advertise the program throughout the school.

Low and fellow sixth-grade student Arielle Canlas also get the word out about the club’s activities and requirements during the school’s morning announcements, which are read by the girls.

So far students have collected, rinsed and sent back about 300 juice pouches. Vilders said that TerraCycle pays to have them shipped back to the company free of charge.

Horrer said she wasn’t sure what to expect when she signed up for the club.

“It seemed different,” Horrer said. “I thought this would be fun — I didn’t know I was going to be cleaning.”

After a few weeks, Horrer said she began to understand the importance of collecting the juice pouches.

“It will lead to less landfills and less garbage,” she said. “And it makes folks feel good.”

Low said other students have done a good job sorting items in the school. She said a lot of students understand the importance of recycling and want to contribute.

“We just want to make a difference,” Low said. “It’s not just us but the whole school.”

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