Kalmalka students promote Litterless Lunch. (Contributed)

Okanagan school digs up $2,500 recycling prize

Kalamalka Secondary students recognized for establishing a new culture of recycling

Every day, the students of Kalamalka Secondary often eat lunch and participate in class activities in the natural outdoor environment adjacent the emerald-green waters of Kalamalka Lake.

But, until the Environment Club was started two years ago, students and staff alike had little awareness of the amount of materials ending up in the school’s waste bins. Now, a $2,500 cash prize from the Return-It School Contest is being awarded to the school in recognition of a host of green initiatives that are significantly reducing waste while promoting education on a range of sustainability topics.

Return-It’s School Contest is focused on empowering the leaders of tomorrow by providing an incentive for elementary, middle and high school students in B.C. to take their recycling initiatives to the next level, and share their stories of making a difference in their own school and community. More than 2 million students have been inspired by the Return-It School program over the last 19 years. Last year alone, 287 schools took part.

Supported by an improved recycling system that accommodates a wider range of materials, students have recycled close to 10,000 beverage containers. The ambitious target has prompted more frequent pickups from the local Return-It depot in Vernon.

“Recycling is the cornerstone of environmental action in our communities, and it remains a critical part of the solution for keeping our oceans and waterways clean,” said Allen Langdon, President and CEO of Return-It. “The students at Kalamalka Secondary have taken recycling to the next level by extending the circular economy concept to organics and an impressive school garden. It’s inspiring to see the results that can be achieved when a dedicated group of kids is motivated by a common goal.”

“Our students are fortunate to head outdoors for class lessons, sit outside at lunch, and spend much of their free time at the lake,” said Kelly Challen, a teacher at Kalamalka Secondary. “We’ve always had a shared appreciation for our natural environment, but we weren’t collectively aware of the amount of waste being generated at our school. Winning the Return-It School Contest will enable us to build on the good work being done by our Environment Club – both in terms of establishing new programs, and promoting awareness.”

In addition to recycling bin enhancements, the new green initiatives include:

  • A composting system, launched in partnership with a local farm
  • Craft workshops to make reusable packaging (such as Beeswax wrap)
  • Litterless Lunch Week, including raffles for bringing litter-free lunches
  • A school-wide switch from plastic to metal utensils
  • ‘School Strikes for Climate’ to raise awareness of the issue and advocate for change
  • A school garden

The composting system has been a particularly big success; the initiative has already required an upgrade from a 238-litre container to a much larger, three-yard bin. Both students and staff have started composting everything from food scraps and paper towels to chopsticks and paper plates. Those materials in turn support the school’s ‘Kalagarden’, which has yielded a plentiful variety of vegetables and herbs.

Return-It has been educating elementary, middle and high school students across B.C. about recycling for the past 19 years. As the organization celebrates its 25th anniversary of environmental stewardship, the School Contest continues to underpin a mandate of empowering change through education.

Related: Vernon pilots organic recycling

Related: Recycling ambassadors head back to Okanagan streets

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.


@VernonNews
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lake Country aims to find happy-medium in Airport Inn shutdown

Airport Inn residents will have until Oct. 5. to find a new home unless an appeal is approved

Mayor says speculation tax is misplaced in West Kelowna

‘I don’t think they really did their due diligence,’ West Kelowna mayor says

Okanagan bike fundraiser raises $146,000 for MS research

Over 130 cyclists from the Okanagan came together to bike for a greater cause

Update: Kelowna Costco may be on the move, council to hear plans within 6 months

Costco has submitted plans to move to a newer Kelowna location

Kelowna Chamber of Commerce release nominees for 2019 Business Excellence Awards

Nominations were submitted by both the local community and businesses

Shambhala named best music festival in North America

Shambhala Music Festival is held at the Salmo River Ranch in B.C.

Okanagan resident recalls recovery journey after heart attack

Gerry Bakker shares his experience after his heart attack 16 years ago at the age of 48

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

B.C. bus crash survivor petitions feds to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

Concert raised funds for Agur Lake Camp

Tim Nutt was headline act at Comedy Night Fundraiser in Summerland

Summerland music promoter wins national award

Paul Biro honoured at 2019 CCMA Awards in Calgary

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

Most Read