Vanessa Mohler is an academic intervention specialist at Candy Lane Elementary in Milwaukie, Oregon who runs the Brigade program at the school!
Several years ago, Vanessa and Candy Lane Elementary started recycling one waste stream with TerraCycle, candy bar wrappers. Today they collect 15 different waste streams including writing instruments and oral care products.
The students at Candy Lane Elementary are integral parts of the program, helping with many aspects of it. They help sort waste streams, design posters, and are ambassadors of the program. An ambassador is selected from each grade and his or her job is to go to the classrooms and let them know what needs to be recycled. The students love being involved in such a large school-wide program and always marvel at people who don’t recycle.
Each classroom has a bin where the different waste streams are collected. The cafeteria also has bins so each morning items recycled at home can be dropped off. Several businesses in the community also collect waste for Candy Lane. The money earned from collecting is being put towards the purchase of electric hand dryers. Vanessa and the school want to cut down their carbon footprint by reducing the amount of paper towels used.
As an experienced Brigade participant, Vanessa has some valuable advice for future Brigade members. She recommends being organized. When she started the collection programs, she didn’t realize how excited people would be about giving her their garbage so she did not have enough containers. She also recommends getting the shipment boxes early. Finding a box large enough in which to send the recyclables can be a challenge so it is important to get one early so you are not scrambling at the end. Lastly, she recommends asking your family and friends to donate. They are more likely to give you their trash than donations of anything else and it makes for some easy added cash to the program.
Vanessa would like to see TerraCycle start to collect bread bags. She says those bags tend to not be recycled anywhere and are a big impact on our environment. Brigade members like Vanessa and Candy Lane Elementary are what help make TerraCycle’s collection programs so successful. Vanessa not only gave us a suggestion, but she and the school collect numerous waste streams and spread the recycling message as well!
Listen to the episode 10 podcast interview with Vanessa Mohler here.