On Wednesday, May 15, STEM Coordinator Erica DeMichele and the Delran Green Team met with students from the Delran High School and Millbridge Elementary School to clean up the area of the high school, This event was the second time the students and the Green Team took part in the school cleanup, however, it was the first time for the elementary schoolchildren.
The goal of the day was to take the students and show the young kids what can and cannot be recycled. All participants were equipped with gloves, black bags for trash and white bags for recyclables. While the day did not garner as much trash as the first school cleanup, the goal to start the kids off young and get them interested in recycling was achieved.
“All the little pieces add up,” said DiMichele. “It makes a difference. In the ocean you’re finding little pieces of plastic washing up onto the land. While the waves are churning, they’re breaking up, but it’s a problem. It’s the same thing on land, we have to make sure that we don’t just walk past a little piece of trash we have to make sure that we pick it up. It should give you some joy inside that you’re making a difference.
“We’re sparking that young,” DiMichele continues. “Every second-grader is a member of the Green Team and that makes them feel a part of the community. When you build that in the community, it brings them together through their experiences so when you get to the intermediate school, we have over 275 kids on the Green Team. It tells you that the kids are excited to join something that’s important.”
According to DiMichele, as the kids grow up other activities such as sports and other clubs take them away from the Green Team. However, events like the school cleanup teach the children at an early age what sustainability actually means. While the children were running around the area looking for trash, some students walked past small pieces of trash, others picked up every little piece, but this was the exact reason why this event was so important.
“I think lately a lot of people have become more environmentally conscious,” said high school student Sydney Croly. “I think this was one step for our community to come together and do our small part in the grand scheme of things. It’s so fun working with the kids because they just kind of go. I said something like ‘be careful of the thorns,’ and they were like ‘what’s a thorn?’ It’s important to start young and teach them that the environment is important.”
The Delran Green Team has built a culture within the community through many different events. The culture has allowed the youth to take matters into their own hands, which is actually the reasoning for the first school cleanup. The Delran High School students wanted to clean up around the area because the trash was starting to build up too much. According to Green Team member Al Carp, the first time they found items from car tires to car batteries.
The Green Team’s efforts have given the students a sense of direction and purpose and has now given the elementary children the knowledge of what sustainability really means.