Strapped Education Budgets Find Relief in Recycling

Tulsa Master Recyclers Association

UPCYCLED SHERIFF: First stuffed with old fabric, the plastic wrap around shipped pallets becomes a better filling for The Sheriff, keeping an eye over our backyard garden.

BETH TURNER for GTR Newspapers

With a now-strangled budget facing our Oklahoma schools, educators have to find ways to save money and their eyes are looking at bills and maintenance. The Oklahoma Green Schools Program and Project Learning Tree are two terrific organizations providing the training and guidance for student-led, hands-on, -based curriculum that can lead to great savings.

You’ll remember the successes reported from Webster High School and Peters Elementary, just two of the many sites benefiting from implementing their discoveries.

Project Learning Tree offers grants up to $1,000 to schools and youth organizations for environmental service-learning projects that link classroom learning to the real world. The deadline to apply is Sept. 30.

Oklahoma Green Schools Program provides on-site, expert volunteers to help complete the six steps to certification of becoming an official “Oklahoma Green School.”

These investigations lead to discovering thousands of dollars worth of savings in energy, waste and water. Learn more at and

Pat on the Back
Despite the fact that there are no laws banning the free, single-use bag given at checkout in Oklahoma stores, in the grocery checkout recently, everyone around me had brought their own bags. That’s really cool. So, I thought you might enjoy a few facts about why we do what we do.

According to, we consume on average per year an estimated 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags worldwide. That comes out to more than one million per minute.

Seattle Public Utilities reported a 50 percent decline in bags found in their waste stream after enacting a bag ban in 2012.

As reported by, Santa Monica adopted the bag ban and saw a reduction of 78 million bags citywide.

The option of charging 10 cents per bag as adopted by many cities provides a small fund for implementing programs such as Santa Monica City Hall purchasing reusable bags from Green Vets L..A., who make the bags and distribute them for free.
No matter what city, curbside services do not recycle plastic bags. They gum up the machines. So always deposit them in bins at your local grocer. Or, just bring your own cuter bag along with you, eliminating the need to recycle altogether.

Fresh Paint Days
A little paint can go a long way in inspiring us to continue reusing what we already have. Fresh Paint Days gives us opportunities to reach out and give a fresh, free coat of paint to a structure you see in need. Request submissions will be accepted until July 31. Volunteers to help paint are always accepted. For more information, visit

An Upcycled Sheriff
As the tomato and tomatillo plants grow stronger, we needed some help keeping the squirrels at bay. What better time to find material to upcycle into our scarecrow we call, “The Sheriff.”

Fortunately, I work with Union Mailman Truman Honeycutt. Ever resourceful, Honeycutt saved pallet plastic wrap which can be shaped into legs and arms easily. Wearing clothes from our giveaway bin at home, trash becomes treasure as the Sheriff keeps watch over our backyard garden.

Reader’s Write
Thank you to reader and Union’s Lead Custodian Sandra Medina, for her recent recycling news. After reading this column and discovering that Mr. Murph can now accept pizza boxes for recycling, she saved 24 boxes from the landfill while cleaning up after a pizza party at the 6/7 Grade Center. That is exciting news!

News reports can get us all down and make us feel overwhelmed and helpless sometimes. So, send in your own success story to That way, we can more easily focus on the good news happening all around us, right here in our own backyards.

Updated 07-25-2016

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