Destin Area Schools Go Green: New recycling initiatives to begin

Savannah Vasquez
The Republic Services recycling bin at DMS holds paper products.

It is 2015, so in this day and age one would be hard-pressed to find a place in the United States of America where recycling is not an option; at least that was the thought process of teacher Angela Barry at Destin Middle School.

Barry heads up a new elective class called Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. Within the class students are challenged to think outside the box and be more proactive in their role in the community. As a project idea, Barry said her students proposed recycling at the school which caused her to look into the recycling programs available to the area.

“For our second quarter, we plan to look at issues affecting our community, folks who are making a difference, and how we can make an impact,” she said. “With all of the recyclable materials that get tossed in our trash, I thought it would be great if my students could implement and encourage recycling at our school.”

DMS Principal Charles Marello said that in recent years Destin Middle School has recycled paper by utilizing a large bin provided by Republic Services, but there has not been a collective effort throughout the school.

“We provided a bin mostly for paper products but we didn’t have something school-wide until this year,” Marello said.

In two weeks, Barry’s students will give a presentation to the student body on the importance of recycling and will give each class a blue bin for paper products. Every Monday following the presentation, Barry’s students will collect the bins and deposit the contents into the large receptacle for the recycling company to pick up.

“I think it’s going to make a huge difference in our trash reduction and waste here at DMS,” said Barry. “I think everyone is really excited about it.”

As for Destin Elementary School, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officer Sonya Shepard oversees the recycling program.

“All of the classrooms participate,” she said. “They each have big five-gallon buckets in the classrooms that each class decorates. The Junior Deputies collect them once a week and take them out to the dumpsters.”

Shepard said the school utilizes a dumpster from Waste Management that is funded by the Destin Parent Teacher Organization.

“The PTO supports us by paying for that,” she said. “We pick up cans, plastics, Styrofoam, cardboard and paper products. We also do projects around the campus for environmental learning such as planting in the gardens.”

Henry Kelley, Program Director for the Okaloosa County School District said that recycling is implemented in some form at every Okaloosa county school in the district, but some schools go above and beyond with their own creative projects.

“Most of our schools have single-source recycling bins,” he said. “The small ones that collect all types of recycling products our custodial services take. However, to get the big dumpsters it costs extra. We encourage parents to get involved and to help students create even better recycling projects.”

Back over at DMS, the students in Barry’s class are excited to start their new recycling program, and although it will not include plastic, aluminum or glass, Barry said she feels it is a step in the right direction for environmental conservation.

“They (Republic Services) recycle cardboard and paper and that’s a huge part of what we generate here,” she said. “I’m hoping we can maybe talk to the company and find out why they don’t recycle other material but I will let the students lead this; that’s the whole point of the class.”