Students at Jessie Mae Monroe learn about up-cycling

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Until recently, students at Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary School were unfamiliar with the idea of up-cycling.
Up-cycling, as explained by Albe Zakes of TerraCycle, is “the process of taking non-recyclable material that can’t be traditionally recycled and finding a way to directly re-purpose it into a new product. By doing that, you’re giving it a new life cycle thus you’re up-cycling it.”
Students at Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary are collecting, sorting, packing and sending drink pouches, chip bags, zipper style bags and Nabisco and Keebler cookie wrappers to TerraCycle. They will receive 2 cents per container for their efforts. Special needs teachers Emma-Lou Edwards and Lindy Hylton are coordinating the ongoing project.
Always on the lookout for ways to benefit their school, Edwards and Hylton learned about TerraCycle paying 2 cents per drink pouch while cleaning up after Saturday Academy snack time. The TerraCycling advertisement was all over the boxes of drink pouches. Excitedly, the two collected the drink pouches from the trashcan, asked for, and received, school principal Patricia Rourk’s permission to register and begin the project.
Money raised from the project will be used to purchase take-home books and take- home-learning activities for all grade levels.
In less than a month, TerraCycling has become a familiar word around JMM. Families received a letter explaining the program and asking that juice pouches, zip style bags, chip bags and cookie wrappers be sent to school.
The response has been amazing, organizers said. The Exceptional Children’s teachers and students have already rinsed, sorted, packaged and mailed 700 drink pouches and more than 900 chip bags. It doesn’t cost the school to mail the items.
“We just print the mailing labels off the TerraCycle website, tape them to our up-cycled boxes and off they go.”
In addition to keeping the containers collected out of the landfill, the TerraCycling project has become an ongoing math lesson.
Students in Edwards’ class are practicing sorting and grouping skills and counting by ones, 10s, and 50s. As the collection process continues, students in Hylton’s classes will work on weekly graphs illustrating the number of items collected by grade level.
For more information about TerraCycling and to sign on as a sponsor for Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary School, call Emma-Lou Edwards or Lindy Hylton at 287-4014.