Small recycling program makes big impact

In her first year teaching at Vincent Elementary School, Natalie Hughston has already made a big impact by founding a recycling program that has grown to include the entire school.

Her fifth-grade class has been recycling during the entire school year, but Earth Day in April really kicked off the school-wide effort.

“Since we’ve never celebrated Earth Day (at the school), we decided to make it a really big deal and let people see how much impact you can have on the environment,” Hughston said.

The school set a goal to save a tree during Earth Day week, and Hughston said the school accomplished that by collecting 130 pounds of paper to recycle. It takes 117 pounds to save a tree.

“You don’t realize how much paper it takes to save a tree,” she said. “But we did that in a week, and we’re in school 30-odd weeks in a year. If you think about how much paper the students use, how much paper the faculty uses, it’s overwhelming how much a school can do.”

Students and faculty also collected almost 170 water bottles.

Hughston said the excitement surrounding the recycling program serves a larger purpose.

“If we get the little people talking about (recycling) and going home and saying, ‘We can do it, Mom,’ so much of an impact can be made,” Hughston said, gesturing to her students.

Arshon Willis, a student in Hughston’s class, said he’s learned a lot from a year of recycling.

“This year, I learned about recycling that when you don’t recycle, you lose a lot of water. When you do recycle, you save water and energy,” he said.

Hughston has spent much of her time working to transport the recyclables from the school to the Harpersville recycling bin.

“Some of the teachers have still been bringing me stuff. It’s to the point where I’m almost overwhelmed because I’m personally taking it,” she said. “If we had something on campus, it would really take off.”