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Pulp reality: Sparing trees is nice

Published Feb. 15, 2006

It's 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, and 8-year-old Olivia Prowell and 9-year-old Victoria Barfield are checking in at the Media Center at Shady Hills Elementary School, as usual. While others peruse the books on the shelves or work quietly at low, round tables, these two don their bright green Earth Patrol vests and get to work, rounding up their very own blue trash barrel with the wheels on the bottom.

Soon they are joined by nine other third- and fourth-graders who are raring to get to the business of collecting recyclable paper from the classrooms and offices at their school. It takes them about 15 minutes to get the paper from classrooms to the cafeteria, where it will be picked up by the school district and dropped at a recycling site.

These kids are special, said their sponsor, media tech assistant Debbie Palmer.

"They're very efficient, very responsible," said Palmer, who instructs the youngsters to be "quiet as a mouse" while they roam the school collecting classroom castoffs. "I've never had a complaint from a teacher that they're being too loud or too silly."

No doubt this is serious work for kids like Christopher Mancini.

"I wanted to help save the earth," said Christopher, 10. "People are cutting down too many trees and wasting."

Anthony Doll, also 10, has a vested interest in being part of this special club. He thinks he can make a difference in helping to save the habitat of animals that live in those trees.

Sometimes their efforts reach outside the school walls.

"I have my own little bucket at home," said 7-year-old Olivia Prowell. "I recycle paper, batteries, cans and that's all."


Turns out there are more than a few Earth Patrols at Pasco County schools. Many schools also participate in an annual battery recycling contest and recycle cell phones, which net the schools $1 apiece. To learn more about how to start an Earth Patrol at your school or for information on other school recycling efforts, go to