Program in Detroit schools teaches kids to care for their world

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BY STEVE NEAVLING
At 10, Denise Cabrales wants a greener planet.
Everyday before class she dutifully collects newspapers, magazines, cans and bottles from her house and lugs them to Logan Elementary School in southwest Detroit where she deposits them into a recycling bin.
She is not the only young environmentalist. Thousands of elementary school students like Denise are learning about recycling under an initiative by Recycle Here!, a Detroit-based recycling business, to educate children about the importance of a cleaner environment.
 
"We don't want to destroy our planet," Denise said emphatically.
 
Recycle Here! is working with 22 elementary schools in the Detroit Public Schools to encourage students to bring paper, glass, plastic, metal and other materials to class to be recycled.
The money generated from recycling the material is returned for school programs. The school that collects the most recyclables by March wins $500 and a mural by Detroit artist Carl Oxley, known for his colorful pop art of animals.
 
"The kids want to go green," said Matthew Naimi, director of Recycle Here! "We are all taught not to throw garbage on the street.
 
Now we're going beyond that and telling them not to throw trash in the garbage can and instead throw it in the recycling bin."
The lessons go beyond the importance of a cleaner environment. Students learn about the science behind recycling and the business of regenerating used materials.
 
"The students really feel like they are making a difference," said Diane Sampson, a science teacher at Logan Elementary School. "We've probably already recycled 2,000 pounds in just two weeks in December."
 
Recycle Here! was founded in 2005 to offer drop-off sites in Detroit for recyclables because the city has no curbside recycling.
Since then, Recycle Here! has recycled more than 2 million pounds of materials from more than 50,000 residents, Naimi said.
"Recycling is as simple as not throwing something in the garbage," Naimi said.