Thursday, July 25, 2024

What is recyclable? Surf City school contest to raise awareness among kids and adults

Surf City Elementary and Middle School will take part in a monthly recycling contest to help spread awareness on what is and what isn't recyclable. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Surf City Elementary School)
Surf City Elementary and Middle School will take part in a monthly recycling contest to help spread awareness on what is and what isn’t recyclable. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Surf City Elementary School)

SURF CITY — For many it’s a guess whether an item thrown into a blue recycling bin will actually end up recycled. The town of Surf City is enlisting some of its young students to help spread awareness of what is — and what isn’t — recyclable.

The Surf City Parks and Recreation Department has partnered with members of its Beautification Committee to roll out a monthly contest aimed at rewarding classrooms at Surf City Elementary and Middle School who fill up the most recycling bags. The hope is that teachers and parents of these students will also grasp a better understanding of what should be recycled.

RELATED: Surf City looks to take over water supply from Pender County in outlying areas

Beautification Committee Chairman Jim Conway said the idea of a school recycling contest was passed along by a local resident, then he and Parks and Recreation Director Chad Merritt brought it to the school. The contest will begin the week of November 18-22, and the classroom who wins will receive a trophy and be recognized by the town on the Facebook pages of the department and the committee.

Conway said the main goal is to raise awareness about recycling because there is a lot of misinformation about what is and what isn’t recyclable — a greasy pizza box, for instance, is contaminated and will not be sent to the landfill, he said.

“If you fill your blue recycle bin full of items, and one thing in that whole bin is contaminated, they have to trash the entire load,” Conway said. “This program is going to open eyes and show people what they can and can’t recycle.”

He hopes the contest will serve as an example for neighboring schools and communities.

“Hopefully this will raise awareness not only in Surf City but in other schools, and that they use this program as a model to continue to recycle,” Conway said. 

Merritt said the competition would show children the importance of proper recycling and help carry over to their everyday personal lives and their future adult lives.

These kids go home and talk to their parents and exercise what they’ve learned,” Merritt said. “We’re hoping that it will allow the kids an opportunity to even teach the parents, so it’s a win-win for everyone in the community.”

He said the monthly contest will continue the last week of every month until May, and the town will continue the program if it is not a burden to teachers and other school faculty.

Surf City Elementary Principal Brian Allen said faculty and students were excited to work in conjunction with the town while helping clean the island’s beaches and educating students about the benefits of recycling.

“They want to get the education out to our young kids to really take care of the littering, the trash on the beaches, and to recycle,” Allen said.

The town’s Beautification Committee also organizes street and beach sweeps, where volunteers from the community gather to pick up trash throughout the year. Merritt said the committee’s goal is to host three sweeps a year.

The next street sweep is set for Saturday, November 9, beginning at 9 a.m. Volunteers are asked to meet at Soundside Park.

Merritt said the sweeps have been effective — last spring a group collected 30 to 40 bags of trash, each 33 gallons in size, according to Merritt. After Hurricane Florence, he said volunteers collected roughly 300 bags of trash.

“When you have a hundred pairs of eyes walking down the streets, and you see a little cigarette butt on the side of the road, it makes a huge difference,” Merritt said.

He said the sweeps are especially effective near the canal streets and on the north end of Surf City on the island.

Mark Darrough can be reached at or (970) 413-3815

Related Articles