Recycling Like No Other

The importance of recycling at school is often overlooked. In addition to improving the environment and reducing waste, recycling programs at schools can teach students the value of ethical habits, good stewardship, and conscientious citizenship.

According to recycle study site Waste360, roughly 75% of school ‘trash’ is either recyclable or compostable. However large that number may be, given that Minnesotan public schools produce nearly 500,000 pounds of waste per day, many of the things that could be recycled aren’t.

This chart, according to CalRecycle, illustrates the most commonly recycled items in public schools.

For example, many students at PA end up throwing away their plastic lunch water bottles in the trash. According to the City of Plymouth, however, these bottles are some of the easier and most common items to recycle (so long as the cap is placed back on the bottle).

“Recycling is very easy at home, but not really at school. Even though we have the big recycling can in the lunch room, we don’t have them in the classes, so a lot of people probably end up throwing things away instead,” stated Gianna Bruno ’19.


PA’s lunchroom recycling can is the most well known among students. However, there are a few others throughout the school.

Even if some of the Upper School classrooms lack blue bins, PA does have a recycling system. According to headmaster Dr. Flanders, there is a weekly cardboard and commingled  pickup, and a quarterly pickup for rarer items such as light bulbs, batteries, or any specialized recyclables.

The Lower School is especially important in recycling pickup. Each Friday morning, the 5th grade students who aren’t in Band or Strings collect classroom recyclables.

Light bulb and cardboard recycling are in some of the regular pickup cycles for PA.
PA also practices recycling in the lunch room.

In addition to physical recycling, PA also saves resources by minimizing after-hours light usage and using insulated glass for windows.

Flanders stated, “I hope every student makes sure to take the opportunities to recycle what [they] can. Always be aware of what’s trash and what’s not.”

Some easy tips for student recycling include:

  • Even if there isn’t a recycling can in your classroom, seek one out! The short walk can make a big difference.
  • Think carefully before throwing things in the disposal bin. Some things such as broken glass or even some fabrics can be recycled specially.
  • Recycling is good, but always avoid throwing non-recyclable items in the recycling cans. Things such as aerosol cans, plastic shopping bags, pizza boxes, or styrofoam can actually gum up the recycling machines, sometimes ruining the rest of the recyclables.


For a full list of recyclable items in the City of Plymouth, click here