a service organization

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Hero of the Month

This month we recognize school cafeteria managers Christina Umbarger, Camellia McKenzie, and Cindy Schlimmer, who took the initiative to help start recycling programs in their schools. Coordinating a recycling program in any school can have hurdles, especially when dealing with hundreds of students in a busy environment. That is why with the help of our RRR Hero of April, Cori Anders, the Town of Gilbert Environmental Services Outreach team approached cafeteria managers with a proposition: Get your kitchens recycling. Not only is it sustainable, it sets a positive example for our youth and can potentially save the school money. After the meeting, these three cafeteria managers decided to take the plunge and make a positive change in their community by committing to start recycling programs in their school kitchens.

With no pre-existing program to work from, the door is wide open for these managers to make big changes in their schools. They do not have a background in sustainability but they all have a passion for the environment. School kitchens go through packaging and materials very quickly throughout the day. These elementary schools have 600-900 students and serve between 300 and 600 lunches a day. By taking the lead on becoming a sustainable kitchen, Umbarger, McKenzie, and Schlimmer are saving hundreds of pounds of trash from being put into landfills. By starting to recycle in the kitchens they are also motivating students, teachers, and staff to recycle in their classrooms and in the offices. The cafeteria sees the most consumption and disposal of any part of the school and by working here they are truly getting at the heart of the problem.

Umbarger, McKenzie, and Schlimmer prove that you do not have to pursue a career in science to make a positive environmental difference. They have found a way to include sustainability into their everyday lives and jobs, which is a lesson that everyone can find value in. It was evident during our visits that the students who come to the cafeteria every day look up to and respect these managers. They are not only helping reduce trash and conserve resources, but they are also helping our community’s children become better stewards of our environment. That is why Christina Umbarger, Camellia McKenzie, and Cindy Schlimmer are the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Heroes for the Month of August!

If you would like to help with recycling efforts at these or any of our Gilbert Public Schools, please e-mail us at recycle@gilbertaz.gov or give us a call directly at 480-503-6459.

If you know someone who you feel should be recognized as an RRR hero, please email us at recycle@gilbertaz.gov.

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