Zeh School’s Environmental Club brings awareness to textile and electronic recycling

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Marion E. Zeh School Environmental Club members along with (back, l to r) parent co-organizer Jeanette Morgan, Principal Susan Whitten, and parent co-organizer Meg Varnes, surrounded by bags of textiles donated as part of the Textile Recycling Challenge.
photo/Liz Nolan

By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer

Northborough – The Environmental Club at Marion E. Zeh School has been learning how to apply the four R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. This year the club consists of fourth and fifth grade students, who recently coordinated a textile recycling challenge. The club will also  be holding its annual Electronics Recycling Day, Saturday, Feb. 3 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the school’s 33 Howard St. location.

The club is co-led by parents Jeanette Morgan and Meg Varnes. The club meets during recess twice a month and is funded through local grants and various fundraisers throughout the year.

“The goal of the club is to foster an appreciation of the natural environment around us and help support it,” said Morgan.

During the fall, students collected seeds from the pollinator garden created last year. Some of these seeds will be planted and the seedlings will be sold at the school’s kids’ fair in May. The annual composting program had students collect vegetables and fruits during lunchtime, which would otherwise be discarded in the trash. The compost is ultimately used in the school gardens in the spring.

Varnes said the club does try to coordinate its topics with the classroom curriculum throughout the year.

January’s focus was on the importance of textile recycling, which was reinforced by some facts.

“In the United States, every person generates about 80 lbs. of textile waste per year,” said Morgan. “Seventy percent of the world’s population relies on second hand clothing.”

After a visual of what that might look like, club members were eager to bring more awareness to students in all grades and staff members by organizing a recent friendly competition. The winner was the classroom who brought in the most textiles by weight.

Textile collection bins are located at all the Northborough schools and benefit the parent teacher groups year round. The Zeh PTO will donate all January proceeds from the school’s bin to the Environmental Club.

The Electronic Recycling Day is the club’s largest fundraiser of the year. For a small, tax deductible donation, electronics will be responsibly recycled. Information can be found at http://bit.ly/2n4FRu4.

“All you have to do is drive up and we will unload your car,” said Morgan. “It’s a great time to get rid of old appliances, broken devices, or Christmas lights. We also take batteries and CDs.”

She does suggest to contact her at [email protected] if you have larger items to recycle.

Additional club events include Environmental Awareness week in April that kicks off around Earth Day. It includes volunteering for the town clean up and incorporates school activities, such as Hug a Tree day, scavenger hunts, unplug and read day, and a topical guest speaker or program.

Varnes believes that the club has made an impact on students and they realize even small changes help, like not using plastic sandwich bags or paper plates.

“There’s a growing awareness that they can make a difference,” she said. “It empowers them to speak with friends and family.”