There's an epidemic going on, and Karen Bryant, the recycling coordinator for Pasco County schools, is pretty excited about it. Students and school employees throughout the county have caught the recycling bug. Many of them, prodded by the district's Resource Recovery Program and student organizations such as elementary school Earth Patrols, are remembering to turn off the lights when no one is in the classroom and make sure that aluminum can goes into the recycling bin instead of the trash can.
The district has earned its share of recycling kudos. Bryant has a wall filled with local, state and national awards to prove it.
"It's easy to apply for an award when your schools are doing the work," said Bryant, who on Friday will accept another award at "Pasco Schools Recycling Day" at Tropicana Field. The district is one of six organizations being honored this season by the Tampa Bay Rays as part of their "Teaming Up for the Environment Initiative."
Recycling can pay off in other ways, too. Sand Pine Elementary School opened its newspaper recycling bin to the public and earned $7,000 last year.
"A lot of our schools are focusing on recycling and energy and water conservation," Bryant said. "The district has a 5 percent (energy) reduction goal, and the schools are trying to meet it."
Add to that, said Bryant, the 2008 Energy Bill signed by Gov. Charlie Crist, which sets a statewide recycling goal of 75 percent by 2020.
"I'm real excited about that," Bryant said. "I think we're doing our part."
How to help
To do your part, check out the school district's recycling programs below:
Battery recycling contest, co-sponsored by the Pasco County School District and Pasco County Utilities, encourages students and school employees to recycle household batteries (AA, AAA, C, D and 9-volt only.) The top 10 schools split whatever prize money has been donated by local businesses, typically about $2,000 total, Bryant said.
Note: The schools CANNOT accept batteries from businesses or the community. Check with individual schools for participation. For information on other battery collection sites, call Farouk El-Shamy, Pasco County environmental manager, at (727) 847-8041. Cellular phone collection: Pasco County Utilities and Resource Recovery sponsor this program in which participants earn $1.25 per phone. Participating schools include:
• Central Pasco: Lake Myrtle, Oakstead, Pine View, Sanders, Sand Pine, and West Chapel elementary schools; Pine View Middle; and Wesley Chapel High.
• East Pasco: Lacoochee, Pasco and San Antonio elementary schools; Stewart Middle; Zephyrhills High; and Moore Mickens Education Center.
• West Pasco: Anclote, Cotee River, Cypress, Hudson, Giella, Locke, Marlowe, Moon Lake, Northwest, Schrader, Seven Springs, Shady Hills and Trinity elementary schools; Seven Springs Middle; and Marchman Technical Education Center. Schools and local businesses can sign up for the program by calling (727) 847-8041. Creation Station: Operated for 15 years by the Pasco County School District, this reuse center offers school employees and nonprofit groups up to 75 pounds of reusable items for school projects. Creation Station is open from 2 to 5:30 p.m. the third Thursday of the month starting Sept. 4 (closed in January). Donations of reusable items such as arts and crafts supplies, cardboard, ceramics, office supplies, food jars, fabric, etc., are welcome. Drop off gently used items to Creation Station, 7227 Land O'Lakes Blvd., Building 51, Land O'Lakes or call (813) 794-2752 to arrange pick up or get a list of acceptable items. Newspaper recycling sites: The public is invited to drop off newspapers for recycling at the following schools:
• Central Pasco: Denham Oaks Elementary, Lake Myrtle Elementary, Land O'Lakes High, Long Middle, Oakstead Elementary, Pine View Middle, Quail Hollow Elementary, Rushe Middle; Sand Pine Elementary, Sanders Elementary, Veterans Elementary, Wesley Chapel Elementary, Wesley Chapel High.
• East Pasco: Pasco Elementary, Pasco Middle, St. Anthony Catholic, San Antonio Elementary, Stewart Middle.
• West Pasco: Cotee River Elementary, Cypress Elementary, Deer Park Elementary, Gulf High, Gulf Middle, Gulfside Elementary, Hudson Elementary, Hudson Middle, Locke Elementary, Northwest Elementary, Richey Elementary, Ridgewood High, River Ridge Middle, Schwettman Education Center, Shady Hills Elementary, Seven Springs Elementary, Sunray Elementary.