Students at Broadway Elementary School this week carried boxes and boxes of used inkjet and laser printer cartridges to Darren Herndon’s third-grade classroom. The cartridges were packed into a larger box to ship to the Funding Factory, a free recycling fundraising organization for schools, nonprofits and charities.
“If you recycle you save the Earth,” said Adam Sabota, one of Herndon’s students.
But at Broadway, Herndon and his students are doing more than recycling. Since the school started collecting the used cartridges and old cellphones in 1999, they have raised $25,000 to buy new technology for the school.
Herndon said technology purchases such as SmartBoards for the classrooms and computers in the lab are usually paid for through the school’s general fund, donations from the parent-teacher organization and boosters.
SmartBoards are used as white boards and can also be used with computer software for lessons. Images on the teacher’s computer are projected onto the board and teachers and students can point and click on the board with their fingers.
“In general, that’s where the money comes from, the parent groups,” said district spokeswoman Melanie Rose. “We’re just limping along with technology as a district.”
Herndon said the PTO has been able to buy one or two SmartBoards a year, each of which costs $2,200. With the recycling program, the school hopes to have one for every classroom by the end of this school year.
Funding Factory has recently recognized Broadway as one of its top recyclers - Broadway ranks 12th among 22,000 participating schools in the country. Since 1999, Broadway has kept 40,000 pounds of electronics-related waste out of landfills.
Herndon said it is important for the school to participate in recycling - they also recycle paper and have a composting program - because it actually shows the students how to recycle and why it’s important. He said they could talk about recycling in their classes, but asking them to participate in the school’s program gets them into the habit of doing it outside school.
“We’re just trying to help cut down the waste,” he said.
Herndon said cartridges come from Broadway families, plus businesses and other district schools.
Every couple of weeks the school has enough recyclables to send off, usually for about $75 a shipment.
Principal Lori Johnson came to Broadway at the beginning of the school year from the Liberty School District. She was pleasantly surprised when she heard about the program.
“It’s really helpful,” she said. “I had no idea how much money it was generating.”
The one drawback students notice is getting ink on their fingers as they packed the cartridges away, but that didn’t seem to bother them too much.
“I’m glad we get to help save the Earth,” said third-grader Kyreanna Fiegel.