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Local schools among those honored by DEC Green Schools Challenge

By DEC Press Release

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the winners of the Green Schools Challenge, a program to recognize those schools that are working to improve solid waste management by developing waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting and/or recycled product purchasing and packaging programs.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said: "Elementary, Middle, and High Schools consume large amounts of resources and generate solid waste. Whether a school has an extensive waste reduction program, or is just getting basic recycling collections off the ground, experience has shown that all schools have potential to further reduce the amount of resources they consume and to minimize the amount of waste they dispose."

The Green Schools Challenge provides a tool for school recycling coordinators, student environmental clubs and facility service professionals to engage their school community in recycling and waste reduction in a fun and friendly way.

Each of these school winners will receive $250 award to use to support their recycling/composting initiatives.  Winners of the 2009-10 Green School Challenge are listed below:  

· <b>Top High School - Rondout Valley High School, Accord, NY:</b> Initiated the "Caught Green Handed" program to reward students and staff that were doing something good for the environment. They also have extended the challenge to the end of the year.

· <b>Top Elementary School - Sauquoit Valley, Sauquoit, NY:</b> Reduced their garbage by 83 percent.   They also buy green seal certified paper towels, toilet paper and facial tissues and use recycled content copy paper.  They use reusable trays for the lunch room and have made great strides in paper reduction measures.

· <b>Most Innovated School - Dryden Central School District, Dryden, NY:</b> Since May 2008, they have composted over 103 tons of food waste, recycled 7.5 tons of mixed containers (milk and juice cartons, glass, plastic and metal containers) and recycled over 25 tons of paper in 2010.  

· <b>Most Improved School - Camden Elementary School, Camden, NY:</b> Reduced their garbage amount by 46 percent and increased their recycling rate by 63 percent for the Green School Challenge.  One of their initiatives to reach that reduction is the Zero-Waste Lunch.   Teachers are incorporating environmental awareness into their curricula.

· <b>Honorary Mention - Jones Elementary School, Utica, NY:</b> Created a "Green Team" that run the school's recycling program.  They even rinse the containers when necessary.  All district and school information is to staff by email to reduce paper use.

Peter Pettit, Director, DEC Bureau of Waste Reduction & Recycling said: "The Department wants to congratulate each of these schools and all the schools in New York State that are doing their part to help our state's environment and educate our future generation on environmental stewardship."

Participation in the Green Schools Challenge encourages students to think about the environmental impacts of their daily choices with the goal of instilling lifelong waste reduction, recycling and composting habits.  Information on the 2011-12 Green School Challenge, including how to participate, will be available on the <u><a href="www.dec.ny.gov">DEC's website early this summer.</a></u>

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