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Placer School's Green Team cleans up Mother Earth

Students donate recycling profits to charity
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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Bottles, cans and paper are being turned into cash at Placer Elementary School. On minimum days, students in an after-school club meet to work on a recycling program they run themselves with the help of teacher and advisor Dana Swain. The “Green Team” collects bottles, cans, plastics, paper and cardboard that Swain takes to the Material Recovery Facility in Roseville. The group has also made a field to trip the MRF to watch the entire recycling process. Swain said last fall she sent out announcements for the new club and ended up with 30 recruits. There are 20 students who regularly participate in club activities. According to Swain, the students organized the club, elected officers and assigned themselves jobs. “They’re very enthusiastic and wordly-minded kids,” she said. Fifth-grader Morgan Brummund said she joined the club because she “wanted to make a greener place” through recycling, producing less waste, reusing and increasing awareness. “Otherwise,” said the 11-year-old, “our planet won’t be that great of a place to live in.” Morgan also “loves” the club. “My friends are in it and it’s just a great way to help the planet.” Next year, Morgan would like to take the club’s message on the road to make people aware of the need for recycling. “Other schools should do this too because it helps your school become a greener place,” Morgan said. Reid Lagerquist is in the fourth grade and turned 10 on June 3. He, too, joined the club with friends. “It sounded like fun to me,” he said. Club members, Reid said, dump out the trash bins and sorts the bottles and cans. They also pick up and empty the paper recycling buckets they’ve placed in each classroom. Reid said the club’s trip to the MRF taught him that more people should recycle and sort their cans and bottles. If others would sort their trash before taking it the MRF, like the Green Team does at his school, “it makes it easier on them,” he said. Reid also said he doesn’t think using plastic sandwich bags is a good idea. “Sometimes,” he said, “instead of going in the landfill they go out in the ocean. Turtles eat jelly fish and … confuse tiny little sandwich bags for jelly fish and they eat them and they get killed.” While these students could justifiably take the money they make from the recycling and spend it on themselves for a fun group activity, they donate it instead to local charities. Beneficiaries of the first $200 in donations have included Habitat for Humanity, the Gathering Inn and St. Jude’s. They’ll decide this week on who will receive an additional $200 they plan to donate. Students also spend time educating the rest of the school about recycling. They’ve made posters and visit classrooms to give talks on recycling. They’ve also purchased and placed recycling bins in the cafeteria and the gymnasium and outside near the playing fields for use by those who participate in weekend sports and activities at the school. “The PTC started us off by giving us $60 to buy three recycling bins,” Swain said. “That was really helpful.” The school provides the garbage bags for the bins, she said, and there are no other expenses. “From there on, they’ve been really self-supporting.” Swain said she has made four trips this year, and each time leaves with over $100 in cash that is deposited by the PTC while the students decide how to use the proceeds. The Green Team’s good deeds have not gone unnoticed. On Saturday, June 6, they’ll be honored at a VIP reception at the STAR ECO Station Environmental Children's Museum and Exotic Wildlife Rescue Facility in Rocklin. The Placer Elementary students will be the first to experience STAR ECO’s new interactive, walk-through storm drain exhibit. The exhibit is designed to illustrate man's relationship with nature and how careless actions lead to polluting area watersheds, rivers and ultimately