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Green Schools Challenge/Recycle-Bowl

What is the "Recycle-Bowl"?

Keep America Beautiful is hosting "Recycle-Bowl," the first comprehensive nationwide recycling competition for elementary, middle and high-school students. Recycle-Bowl is designed to provide students with a fun, interactive way to learn about waste reduction and environmental responsibility through in-school recycling. For more information, please go to the following site- This is replacing the DEC's 2013 Green School Challenge.

2012 Green School Challenge Winners:

Green School Champion/Top Green Elementary School:
  • Staley Upper Elementary School: Rome, NY
Top Green High School:
  • New Roots Charter School: Ithaca, NY (High School)
Most Innovative:
  • Rondout Valley High School: Accord, NY
Best Recycling Event:
  • Lynbrook High School: Lynbrook
Most Improved:
  • Webster Thomas High School: Webster, NY
Top Green Junior High School:
  • Fishers Island School: Fishers Island, NY (Middle School)

Project Summaries

Staley Upper Elementary School: Rome, NY

Per Capita
Number of students: 750
Number of Staff members: 140
Mixed Recyclables
Before challenge weight: 1,280 lbs
After challenge weight: 9,000
Percent increase: 603%
Before challenge weight: 8,150 lbs
After challenge weight: 6,130 lbs
Percent decrease: 24,78%

Staley is a great example for other schools to follow on how to be a sustainable community and follow the three R's. With a 603% increase in the amount of pounds that they were able to recycle shows their ability and dedication to become greener. Over eight weeks they meticulously calculated the amount of cans & bottles, paper, cardboard, and garbage that they were recycling or disposing of. They started off their school year by giving students a reusable water bottle and told students about the benefits of reducing plastic waste and encourage students to do so. They have a school wide recycling program as well as numerous events and posters hung around the school to encourage people to reduce, reuse, and recycle. They also have worked with partners and other schools and have had speakers come to their school to educate the entire community on how to save the environment. They understand how important it is to teach students how to incorporate the 3 R's into their everyday lives because they take those lessons home to their family and friends. They also set up challenges in the school to make friendly competition with the students to see as a students body if they can reduce more by having Zero Waste Lunch days. These are only a few examples of the many actions that Staley is taking to be the leader in reducing, reusing, and recycling.

New Roots Charter School: Ithaca, NY (High School)

Per Capita
Number of students: about 175
Number of staff members: about 40
Plastics Recycling
Before challenge weight: 3.5 lbs
After challenge weight: 8 lbs
Percent increase: 129%
Collected after 1 week: 39.75 lbs
Mixed Recyclables
Before challenge weight: 28 lbs
After challenge weight: 41 lbs
Percent increase: 46%
Collected after 1 week: 41 lbs
Before challenge weight: 6 lbs
After challenge weight: 12 lbs
Percent increase: 100%
Collected after 1 week: 50.25 lbs
Before challenge weight: 51 lbs
After challenge weight: 3 lbs
Percent decrease: 288%
Collected after 1 week: 99.25 lbs

New Roots Charter School is very conscious with reducing, reusing, and recycling in their everyday lives. They reduce through eliminating paper waste by using email, and doing most of their course work through online servers and the books that are used in class are second hand. By using washable dishes and silverware they are able to wash and reuse all utensils for meals. They also use Farm-to-School Meals Program to have food delivered in bulk and reduce the amount of trips to be made for delivery. In terms of recycling the New Roots Charter School has recycling receptacles throughout their buildings and students sort and weigh the recycled items to keep track of their progress as well as a composting system. They are conscious with the school supplies that are used such as pens and paper and make sure that they are purchasing "reusable, refillable goods over disposable materials." These are only a few examples of how this school is environmentally conscious within their school. They also work with surrounding organizations to promote environmental awareness and they aid in mentoring other schools to go green.

Rondout Valley High School: Accord, NY

Per Capita
Number of students: 850
Number of staff members: 85
Cans, Plastic, and Glass Bottles
Before challenge weight: 242 lbs
After challenge weight: 189 lbs
Percent reduction: -1.6% (about 200 water bottles were reused instead of being recycled)
Before challenge weight: 899 lbs
After challenge weight: 1,147 lbs
Percent reduction: -30.1%
Before challenge weight: 1,432 lbs
After challenge weight: 2,214 lbs
Percent reduction: -50.0%
Juice Pouches
400 pouches were taken from the garbage to be reused

The Rondout Valley High School's environmental club is a great advocator for the green initiative. Through posters, quilts made through recycled old clothes, pledges to go green, and raffles including people who are spotted recycling, the club has encouraged the community to reduce, reuse, and recycle. They have made flyers and surveys to show students and staff members the things that they can do to become greener in their school and at home. To promote waste reduction the school has a recycling program, uses email, encourages double sided printing, water-conserving toilets, mail is sent to one family, and motion sensitive lighting is used to save energy. They also retrieved plastic water bottles from the trash and recycling bins to make into flower containers. While they do not reuse dining materials, the environmental club is raising money for a dishwasher and reusable trays. Their recycling program has been in place for eight years, showing that they have made a significant contribution to the green initiative. This high school is a great advocate for going green and within their community they are trying to reduce the amount of utensils and dishes that are thrown away after meals and they are encouraging other students and staff members to join their cause of being more sustainable.

Lynbrook High School: Lynbrook

Per Capita
Number of students: 1,030
Number of staff members: 90
Cans and bottles
Before challenge weight: 15 lbs
After challenge weight: 27 lbs
Percent increase: 80%
Recycled per week: 200-400 lbs
Mixed Recyclables
Send in 2 computer paper boxes filled with ink cartridges, cell phones, and batteries each month to the Recycle Rewards or DPW
Before challenge weight: 555 lbs
After challenge weight: 395 lbs
Percent decrease: 29% decrease

Lynbrook High School was able to decrease their amount of waste and increase their amount of recycling by a considerably good rate, which were their main goals during the Green School Challenge. Considering that they are a large school they have reduced, reused, and recycled in an effective way. To reduce, teachers are encouraged to conserve the amount of paper that they print and print double-sided sheets. In terms of reuse the high school does use dining utensils that are washable and they encourage students to bring in lunch boxes and Tupperware containers for food and use reusable water bottles. There are recycling bins throughout the school, which are sponsored by the Globe Club, the on campus environmental club. There is a great amount of support for Earth Day. The week leading up to Earth Day the Globe Club wears and sells t-shirts with catch phrases encouraging sustainability. Each year the club decorates a display case in the cafeteria. Also, tips on how to "save energy, conserve water, reduce waste, and conserve biodiversity" are said over the intercom during morning announcements. This school is doing a good job with reducing their waste and increasing their use of recycling and saving energy, but they could do more in terms of developing a compost program and work with other schools to raise awareness about the importance on conserving to save our planet.

Webster Thomas High School: Webster, NY

Per Capita
Number of students: 1,450
Number of staff members: 160
Cans and bottles
Before challenge weight: No records kept
After challenge count: 635
Percent increase: 100%
Collected after 1 week: 635

Webster Thomas High School is somewhat conscious with how they conserve. To reduce paper they encourage double sided printing and putting many school records online. They had an attempt to have washable dining utensils, but many were thrown out by students and were unable to be retrieved. This became too cost effective, so the school had to resort to using paper products and trays from recycled paper. Throughout the school there are recycling reciprocals and the cleaning staff sorts though the containers to ensure that the recycling in done properly. To save energy the Webster Thomas High School has a computer system to control all heating and air conditioning and some lighting. Considering the large size of this high school they are able to recycle a great amount of their waste, but they could also contribute more through a composting program and even reach out to other schools or join with other organizations to strive to become more environmentally friendly.

Fishers Island School: Fishers Island, NY (Middle School)

Per Capita
Number of students: 64
Number of staff members: 28

This middle school is a very small school and they are not located near other schools, so they have not worked with other schools to learn how to be more sustainable, but they have managed to be sustainable on their own. They are good promoters of waste reduction by saving electricity, using 2 sided printing when available, doing a great deal of work through electronics, and each student was given a reusable water bottle at the beginning of the school year. They support reuse by reusing art supplies and reusable lunch bags. To recycle the school has recycling containers throughout the buildings. Students are taught about how to be more sustainable through classes. This school is reducing, reusing, and recycling, but they could do a better job with composting, planting a garden and working with other partners.

Additional Questions?

Call Debbie Jackson, Environmental Program Specialist, NYSDEC at (518) 402-8706 or email at

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