Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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Since 2009, Brownsville ISD has been committed to teaching students about the importance of recycling.

Micaela Escobar, director of Records Management and Recycling for the school district, believes that teaching students about the significance of recycling is essential.

“It is very important to teach our students about recycling and conservation,” she said. “Our students can be our strongest advocates, both within our school district and our community, in protecting our planet, for our future and the future of generations to come.”

Brownsville ISD has implemented several recycling initiatives, including commingled recycling, dual-stream recycling, and purchasing recycled products.

Commingled recycling — also known as single-stream recycling — involves the recycling of paper, cardboard, metal, and plastic items. The Brownsville ISD Board of Trustees voted to approve the initiative in November 2020. In December 2020, 63 recycling containers were delivered to Brownsville ISD schools and facilities to start the commingled recycling program.

Dual-stream recycling, or source-separated recycling, has been in place in Brownsville ISD facilities for several years. Various departments have taken part in dual-stream recycling. The district’s Food and Nutrition Services Department has recycled paper and cardboard, while the Records Management and Transportation Departments have recycled paper, cardboard, and metal using separate containers.

Brownsville ISD also purchases recycled products as part of their recycling initiatives. Purchasing recycled materials helps minimize the creation of waste by reusing materials, recycling materials that are unable to be source-reduced, and purchasing environmentally preferred products.

“Brownsville ISD involves the community and Brownsville ISD students by creating and collaborating with community stakeholders,” Escobar said. “Raising awareness on the three Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) is just one part of a much larger program of activities through which the district takes an increasingly active role to further understanding and preservation of the environment in the years to come.”

In September 2009, Brownsville ISD was awarded five grants by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in cooperation with the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council for the purchase of various recycling materials, including education materials for elementary and secondary schools, recycling bins and containers, a large baler and a garbage truck.

Brownsville ISD involves its students and the community in these recycling initiatives in several ways, including sponsoring an annual art contest, hosting an Earth Day rally, hosting an Arbor Day celebration, providing educational videos and advertising to promote the district’s recycling program and fostering a competitive spirit between students by publishing participation in recycling initiatives.

The district has recycled over 376 tons of materials during the 2021-22 school year. During the 2020-21 school year, Brownsville ISD recycled over 338 tons of materials.

Brownsville ISD students have become cognizant of recycling practices within their community.

“I have seen the impact on how much students care about recycling since the implementation of the recent initiatives,” Escobar said. “During Brownsville ISD’s first Arbor Day Celebration, fifth-grade students inquired if their new middle school had a recycling student club. For this reason, Brownsville ISD and the City of Brownsville – Keep Brownsville Beautiful are in the process of developing a program where elementary and secondary campuses can become affiliates under their (Keep America Beautiful) charter.  Our goal is to establish recycling student clubs at each campus.”

Brownsville ISD currently offers recycling clubs for secondary schools and is hoping to be able to provide recycling clubs for elementary-age students. If they accomplish this goal, Brownsville ISD will be the first school district in the Rio Grande Valley to provide widespread recycling clubs for elementary schools.

This year, Brownsville ISD hosted the second annual Recycle Rally on April 22 in the Brownsville ISD Administration Parking Lot. This event included presentations by the City of Brownsville and Keep Brownsville Beautiful, Gladys Porter Zoo, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, and Sea Turtle Inc.

Recycling is a simple way to protect our environment. Everyone can find a way to do their part and recycle, reduce waste or save water.

“You can pledge to save energy, not wastewater, use reusable bags, not litter, and encourage family and friends to be kind to our planet,” Escobar said.

To learn more about Brownsville ISD’s recycling initiatives, visit the Brownsville ISD website, Facebook page, or instructional television station.

Brianna Bullion