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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RDCO closes section of Mission Creek due to high water levels

RDCO urges visitors to respect closure signs posted at these locations until waters recede

Surrey man accused of murdering his partner in West Kelowna back in court

Tejwant Danjou took his first steps back into Kelowna Law Courts on Monday

Easter Seals shifts to virtual camps due to COVID-19 restrictions

The Lake Country summer camp is for children and adults with disabilities

B.C. Hockey League prepping for 2020-21

League reviewing different scenarios and start times in compliance with provincial regulations

Kelowna firefighters train for a technical rescue Mission Creek

Four Kelowna Fire Department technical rescue teams were on the water on Monday

Structure fire in Lake Country

Fire crews respond in full force to Oyama blaze on Pelmewash Parkway

Vernon videographer captures thunderstorm

See the ‘best bits’ of Saturday’s storm

Dyer: I left my heart in the desert

Kristy Dyer is a columnist for Black Press Media who writes about the environment

RCMP seek suspect in armed robbery at Salmon Arm gas station

Police believe suspect entered convenience store prior to covering face with mask

Horoscopes for the week of June 1

Weekly horoscopes by Morgan Fava

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Kootnekoff: Re-opening to a new normal

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, an Okanagan based-law practice

Golden Wine Ninjas brings positivity – and wine – to community

The group was started by Jolene Wood on May 13 and has already amassed over 500 members

Most Read