A group of female students poses in front of a school sign

The Story of The Future at Russell Reid Elementary School

By Tia Karmiris, Torie Windle, Charlotte DeVries, Hannah Clark and Grace Powless

We are The Future group at Russell Reid Elementary School. We started as a group of five Grade 8 girls who were assigned a class project to keep a record of how many plastic lids were consistently thrown away in the recycle bin or trash bin. This project was assigned by our teacher, Mrs. Kargus, and it was our custodian, Mrs. Kelly, who brought the idea of Terracycle to our school. (Terracycle is an organization that works with the concept of diverting waste from landfills by recycling the unrecyclable.)

This was the beginning of our journey. It started as something small and we had no idea how big it would get.

In January 2019, our teacher let us decide what data we wanted to collect as apart of the project. Tia, Charlotte, Hannah, and Grace decided to go around to every class to tally how many lids were not being recycled properly. Torie was part of another group which counted the total number of lids at the end of each school day. Both groups collected data for 10 consecutive school days.

When all of the tallies were recorded, we thought about the idea of having a rally against climate change to bring awareness to our school of this very important issue. We believed that if kids knew more about climate change, they would be more likely to save lids for our Terracycle program. Our teacher was very supportive of the idea of raising awareness. We thought of how we were going to manage the rally and to move forward with the action. We invited Trustees and city councillors, and the news showed up. During the rally, Ward 2 Councilor John Sless chatted with Tia, Torie and Charlotte about our action to ban plastic straws all through the City of Brantford.

The rally turned out to be a huge success. We didn’t think we’d get as much attention as we did! It led to us getting an invitation to present our idea to Brantford City Council. We worked extremely hard every day to make sure we had everything ready to present on March 19.

The day finally came when we headed to Brantford City Hall to present to Council. The presentation went very smoothly and we were very pleased that Council passed a motion (unanimously!) to do a study and report on banning plastic straws in the City. Brantford is still working on the study and we are hoping the ban will get accomplished soon.

After the presentation, the issue received attention from other peers in our school, with a lot of questions from students asking if they could join the five of us. We now have a growing group of 10 Grade 8 students and one Grade 7 student. All together, we planned a board-wide Day of Climate Action which took place April 26. At our school, we made a huge banner that every student in our school placed their hand on!

On April 30, Tia, Torie, Hannah, Grace, Charlotte, and Mrs. Kargus, headed to City Hall once again to receive an environmentalist recognition award. We were all thrilled to be accepting the award. All 11 members of the group are now working on many more events to be held. We are planning a film festival at our school, and are trying to arrange a climate action speaker to visit as well. We are also hoping to work on implementing a green bin program in our city as well.

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