Some might say that the City of Cincinnati gets more beautiful every day, what with the continued development of its urban core and riverfront, an ever-expanding “green” construction movement and a treasure trove of amazing parks and public spaces.
Keep Cincinnati Beautiful
(KCB) works to ensure that the surrounding environment keeps pace by creating innovative and award-winning programs that encourage recycling and conservation practices among schoolchildren, and make it easier for folks to save the old VCR in the basement from a landfill.
KCB earned notable recognition in July when Keep America Beautiful recognized the organization’s Sustainability in Action and One Stop Drop programs at its annual assembly of Ohio affiliates in Columbus.
While many public schools strive to set environmentally friendly “green” goals, KCB noticed that schools struggle to meet them.
“There is a misperception out there that ‘green’ programs create more work for school staff and faculty,” says Brooke Romaniw, KCB public awareness and volunteer coordinator. “We wanted to find a way to reverse this perception and help Cincinnati Public Schools educate both students and adults.”
As a result, Sustainability in Action (SIA) was born. Funded by partners including P&G, Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District and the City of Cincinnati Office of Environmental Quality, SIA is a three-year program that engages students in hands-on activities that work to forge “green” habits.
Launched in January 2012, the SIA program focused first on waste reduction in school lunchrooms. Each day at lunch, students were taught to sort the waste on their trays, identifying items that could be recycled or composted.
Students at Dater High School, Rees E. Price Academy, Roselawn Condon, Rockdale Academy and Silverton Paideia were part of the pilot year.
“The students saved tons of waste from landfills during the pilot and benefitted from hands-on experience,” says Romaniw. Some students took it a step further by creating their own compost bins and gardens.
As the recipient of Keep America Beautiful’s Civic/Nonprofit Award, SIA is set to begin its second phase, focusing on energy conservation during the upcoming school year. The idea is that by year three, participating schools should be ready to take over the programs themselves.
“We’ve found that schools really see the value in this program,” says Romaniw. “It is exciting to see children building sustainable habits that have the potential to change the future for the better.”
KCB won more national recognition for its One Stop Drop event, which launched in November 2011. It won the America Recycles Day Award from Keep America Beautiful. Romaniw spearheaded the development of One Stop Drop to make recycling unusual items convenient. While curbside recycling saves many items from the landfill, it does not accept things like electronics and number 5 plastics.
During the One Stop Drop, you can drop off these types of items, drive-thru style, with free refreshments available.
By partnering with 2TRG, the Cincinnati Zoo, Hamilton County, the City of Cincinnati and Whole Foods, the One Stop Drop program reached hundreds of people in just a few hours. Items like old cell phones, batteries, dried-out pens and markers, plastic bags and number 5 plastics were collected.
“We are pioneering the way for schools and our community, and are proud to lead the pack,” says Romaniw.
What are you doing to keep Cincinnati beautiful?
• Help students learn to sort recycling in the Sustainability in Action program. Email Brooke Romaniw
• Mark your calendar for the 2012 One Stop Drop coming in November.
• Find out what Keep Cincinnati Beautiful has in the works; like the group on Facebook
By Deidra Wiley Necco