For PTA Secretary Lizzie Montgomery, helping Norton Elementary School to win outdoor garden beds, a picnic table and gazebo made entirely out of recycled materials was no easy feat.
“I heard about TerraCycle about four or five years ago, but at the time I couldn’t figure out how to participate,” she said. “Our family is big into recycling and we’re glad we could expand it to the entire school community.”
TerraCycle is a national organization that aims to combat climate change by upping the public’s recycling awareness. It is a free program that businesses and local organizations can use in order to safely and sustainably dispose of non-recyclable or difficult-to-recycle waste.
The contest, which began at the beginning of the summer and ended in late September, asked community members to visit the TerraCycle website and vote for the school of their choice as many times as they wanted. The competition was open to all schools in the country.
Montgomery, who had never posted on the Cheshire Community Forum on Facebook, began posting daily reminders on the site over the summer, encouraging everyone to vote for Norton.
“Up until now, I had no real way of participating in TerraCycle’s competitions” Montgomery mentioned. “They needed a certain amount of pounds in order to even enter the competitions, which is hard for one family to come up with. But if a whole school or community does it, it becomes a little easier.”
Norton Elementary School’s Principal Kelly Grillo is excited to share the win with her students and staff.
“I am personally very grateful for Lizzie Montgomery for all of her efforts to make this win possible,” she said. “She has made TerraCycle a part of our school community. We will continue to support this initiative as we are dedicated to doing our part to reduce litter that would otherwise end up in a landfill or incineration facility. Our students and staff will enjoy the new additions to our campus and are proud that we are making a difference for our environment.”
TerraCycle’s programs use waste materials that typically would have no value and turn them into products that can be resold or reused for something else. While not everything can be recycled, TerraCycle’s website has a hefty list of what can be, including different wrappers and various plastic containers that any student would find in their lunchbox.
“We put collection boxes in each classroom,” Montgomery explained. “When you collect a certain weight of items you can have it picked up and you get points associated with what was brought in, and then you can utilize the points for different things through TerraCycle.”
For this particular contest, votes were tallied by the number of people who specifically voted on TerraCycle’s website for their school. Montgomery’s dedicated efforts to remind Cheshire residents to vote every single day was a big help in Norton’s success.
“I thought it would start to get really annoying and people wouldn’t like it,” Montgomery said. “But when it was over, people came up to me and said that the only reason they remembered to vote was because of me, so I guess it helped.”
The installation date is unknown, but Montgomery still has big plans for Norton.
“They will have a contest in the spring for a new playground,” Montgomery said excitedly. “So Norton will be back participating in that later on.”
Find out more about TerraCycle online at https://www.terracycle.com/en-US.