Keeping America Beautiful is an organization with a goal made clear by its title. They hold an annual, nation-wide competition meant to get school kids to recycle called the Recycle Bowl Competition. The competition is open to any school in America that wants to participate and gives prizes to the winners. Now many schools already have recycling programs, but the Recycle Bowl helps encourage more participation by offering a level of competitive challenge. A simplified version of the challenge is that each school registered will have a certain amount of time to collect as much material as possible, count it, report it, and compare it to all the other schools. If you want to know more about this program you can check it out here.
Reading about the Recycle Bowl reminded me of the Earth Day project my middle school had its students do. The project was simple; build something completely out of recyclable materials and present it on Earth Day. My friend and I decided to team up to make a set of green medieval items. He made a chest plate from recyclable cans, I made a “chain-mail” shirt out of soda tabs, and together we built a miniature catapult that fired chocolate eggs. Needless to say, we both wore our armor all day long, and took many opportunities to lay siege to random classrooms. I wished that there could have been a prize for the projects we made because I was quite proud of our unique use of materials. That got me thinking about the Recycle Bowl and what might be a good addition to this already great idea.
Like a lot of kids, I loved competing in school. Trying to be the fastest at a game, or build the best project, it was a great way to get kids engaged in the class. While the Recycle Bowl is certainly an amazing cause, I can imagine that many young students would not have a ton of fun just collecting recyclables. So, why not add something to the competition? Make another part of the competition be not only to collect recyclables, but to use them in a project. This way, students will have the ability to imagine beyond the empty water bottle. They can literally recycle their collections into something else; something fun. Then every school presents their collection totals and anything they build. The largest collectors still get a reward, but then so does the most imaginative school.
Since the overall goal is to increase the amount of recycling done in America, if you have an idea for how to do that, I encourage you to comment below. If you have a really good idea, you could even message Keeping America Beautiful to help them out.