These Recycle Rally Teachers Spill their Secrets

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Author: Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Teachers are incredibly resourceful and innovative. They work hard to find new ways to connect with students and create a positive school culture. Yet another way teachers make the world a better place is by encouraging kids and peers to protect the environment. Two inspired educators — Chris Robinson of Woodland Heights Elementary and Lora Roth of Clemson Elementary — have shared their PepsiCo Recycle Rally teacher secrets that took their classroom’s recycling efforts to the next level. Give them a try, too!


PepsiCo Recycle Rally secrets from Woodland Heights Elementary School


Woodland Heights Elementary in Mooresville, NC is home to approximately 800 K-5 students. There, you’ll find Chris Robinson in a 3rd-grade classroom. Robinson, who has a daughter in 4th grade, is in his 25th year of teaching and has plenty of great tips to share!


Still of students with plastic bottles recycle rally teacher secrets


After leading an environmental club of 3rd-5th graders, joining PepsiCo Recycle Rally felt like a “natural extension of the club” to Robinson. Despite the pandemic, he and his students have continued to find ways to stay committed to recycling. He’s “proud that our school is recycling at a high level considering the changes we have all faced.”


Robinson’s top tips for making PepsiCo Recycle Rally work:

  • Work together with other teachers and their students to collect recycling each week from the whole school.
  • Track recycling on the tally form.
  • Send out monthly updates to share the school’s impact from the previous month.

Robinson’s biggest challenge:

As successful as Woodland Heights has been, however, Robinson admits that the biggest challenge has been “educating students and teachers about what is and what is not recyclable.” Fortunately, PepsiCo Recycle Rally offers many great resources including school displays, a lesson plan, and videos (like this one about plastic bags) that teach what’s recyclable, as well as a video on recycling contamination!


This committed teacher has one more important tip for finding PepsiCo Recycle Rally success: “As simple as it sounds, we have found that the easier we make the recycling process, the more participation we have.”


Clemson Elementary School’s PepsiCo Recycle Rally secrets


When Lora Roth began teaching 4th grade at Clemson Elementary in Clemson, SC five years ago, she was surprised to discover they didn’t have a recycling program. Roth, who believes it’s important “for the students to establish the habit of recycling,” decided to start a new program for recycling paper, cans, and plastic bottles.


Still of students with recycling bins


How did she make this recycling program happen?

Roth, who is in her 15th year of teaching, feels that “it would not have been possible without the support from PepsiCo Recycle Rally. They have supported our program by providing recycling bins, incentives through the rewards program, lesson plan ideas, and tracking our impact.”


Roth’s top tips for making PepsiCo Recycle Rally work:

  • Ask for help.
  • Contact other schools with an active program and find out what works for them.
  • See what supplies your school already has: Roth’s school had bins stacked in a custodial closet from a program a long time ago that she didn’t even know about!
  • Contact parents and PTA for support. People in the community may feel very passionate about your cause and be willing to donate money or supplies.
  • Be sure to check PepsiCo Recycle Rally Supplies/Incentives for things that are zero points, like the welcome kit offered to new schools. The excitement builds from there with posters, stickers, and other incentives.
  • When getting started, send out a slideshow presentation detailing what can and can’t be put in the school’s recycling bins. Roth also laminated posters from the sides for each bin with reminders about acceptable items.
  • Make participation optional. About half of the teachers at Roth’s school participate in their classrooms.
  • Use PepsiCo Recycle Rally points to buy things like frisbees or stickers for the classes as rewards.
  • Collect every other week and send out an email with the school’s “impact” infographics from our dashboard.
  • Once you join, keep an eye on your email inbox and join the Recycle Rally Facebook Group for contests and key program updates.
  • Don’t get discouraged if you start slowly. Any program is better than no program at all.

What’s one final tip that Roth believes could work for most people? “Start small. Even collecting the soda cans and bottles from teachers or maybe the cleaning wipe containers is better than nothing.”


Roth’s biggest challenge:

Getting someone to pick up the recycling from the school remains a challenge. Currently, Roth and her husband take all the recycling to the county recycling center. Despite having to put in this extra effort, seeing their truck filled with recyclables makes her feel proud knowing she “created an entire program. I’m also hopeful that all this waste will avoid the landfill.” Roth’s class even won 5th place in PepsiCo Recycle Rally’s Write or Sing to Celebrate the Holidays Contest last year. What a great milestone to celebrate!


How these tips can help you with your recycling program

Here’s the bottom line, recycling programs offer long-term benefits to schools and the planet.

  • Start wherever you are right now.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Reach out to other schools and ask for help.
  • Join the participants-only PepsiCo Recycle Rally Facebook group to connect with like-minded people.
  • Check the storage areas in your school for recycling supplies you may already have.
  • Host an event to get administrators, fellow teachers, and parents on board.
  • Sign up for PepsiCo Recycle Rally and discover all of the ways this program can help level up a school’s recycling efforts!

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