Rutland Elementary - 1st place Elementary Division 2017/2018

November 29, 2018

At Rutland Elementary School in Kelowna, we have had in-school beverage container recycling for many years.  So far this school year, our 424 students have diverted 5842 beverage containers from the landfill and the Parent Council has used the $296.45 collected towards the purchase of musical instruments such as xylophones, metallophones and ukuleles.

We have three collection bins set up in the hallways, one in each portable and one in the staff room. Twice a week a parent volunteer sorts and counts the containers and, every month or two, takes the bags of containers to our local Columbia Bottle Depot at 680 Dease Rd.

To help teach the importance of Reducing/Reusing and Recycling, each year grade three and four classes go on a field trip to the Kelowna Landfill.  Our school goal is simply to keep recyclable containers out of the landfill and to use refillable containers more often.  It seems more students are using refillable containers as, over the years, the number of containers collected in-school has decreased (and the custodians have ensured that refundable containers stay out of the garbage).

For our grade five students, however, empty beverage containers take on a whole new meaning.  Before grade fives graduate and move on to the middle school, they have the opportunity to go on an annual year-end camping trip.  To cover the cost of the May camping trip, we held two bottle drives in April but planning for the bottle drives began much earlier.  Dates for the drives were booked with the bottle depot in September, as sorting and bagging is much easier when done at the depot using their tables, bins and bag stands.  In February, flyers were sent home with every Rutland Elementary student asking them to save their empties for the grade five bottle drives. Grade five students were given extra flyers that they could distribute to neighbours, relatives or parent co-workers, to reach the wider community.

Fifty of our grade five students participated in the bottle drives in order to earn a share of the profits.  Parent drivers were given maps, assigned roads and took groups of students out to canvass neighbourhoods.  Other students and parents stayed at the depot to sort and count (and barbeque hot dogs for everyone’s lunch).  Our goal was to raise enough money to send all the students who participated in the bottle drives to camp.  We met our goal.  The total for both bottle drives was 69,590 containers collected and $5,319.10 raised.

The grade five camping trip is the culmination of elementary school for Rutland Elementary students, something anticipated years in advance.  For many students it is their first time sleeping away from home.  For others it is their first experience with kayaking or archery.  Though the students slept in cabins rather than tents, the beautiful setting, at Gardom Lake just south of Salmon Arm, allowed kids to experience nature in a new way.

It’s rather poetic that recycling, the aim of which is to preserve resources and our natural environment, allowed the grade fives at Rutland Elementary to enjoy our natural resources in a quintessentially Canadian way.