Press Release: Maple Wood Elementary Trains on Trash

Somersworth, NH – On Sept. 24, Maple Wood Elementary School third-graders conducted a school waste audit known as Trash On the Lawn Day (TOLD). Educators Gwen Erley and Julia Kummerfeldt from NRRA’s School Recycling Club, trained 125 students how to identify and pull recyclables from school trash collected the prior day. In addition, another 247 students from the fourth and fifth grades walked by in ten-minute intervals s to review the progress at the start of the event and the end of the event.

Each group of third grade students was given several bags of trash which were weighed, sorted into bins, then weighed again. When sorting was completed the students had a visual and quantifiable record of how much of their “trash” could have been diverted from the landfill. While the school has a successful food waste and recycling program, the students still saw opportunities to improve their efforts, and were surprised by the amount of food waste. They also found a reusable water bottle. The students asked lots of questions and learned that diverting recyclables and reducing food waste saves energy, natural resources and landfill space. Special guest Mark Richardson, from the Somersworth School Board, helped coach the students with the sorting process.

Many thanks to Maple Wood teachers Emily Wilson and Jen Landry for their help in organizing this event, and to all the classroom teachers who helped to maintain order and reinforce the recycling lessons. Additional thanks to Wendy Berkeley, the Somersworth Farm to School Coordinator, who was instrumental in securing funding for this program and provided her expertise throughout the day.

Special thanks to Facilities Director Karl Ingoldsby and Custodian Gloria Morin, who provided invaluable assistance with logistics. This event would not have been possible without the support of Principal Devin McNelly who authorized this all-day educational event.

Trash On the Lawn Day was free to the school thanks to funding provided by the Somersworth Farm to School program, along with a generous matching grant from New Hampshire the Beautiful.