Reusable cups to help “green” Red Lodge sporting events

Starting with the first RLHS Basketball game vs. Roundup in Jan., high school sports fans will no longer be able to purchase aluminum cans and plastic bottles from Red Lodge concessions. Rather, to help reduce recyclable waste, reusable plastic cups will be sold and filled with fountain soda, water or Gatorade. In an effort to “green” sporting events and raise communi ty awarenes s about sustainability, Science teachers Kate Belinda and Pam Nell have been working with teachers, staff and administrators to get the pilot project up and running and hope the community will respond positively to the changes. “If we start modeling sustainable practices in school, we hope the community will also see the benefits. Instead of being consumers, we should be active par t i cipants, ” Bel inda explained. For $3, patrons receive a reusable 12-ounce container with either the Rams logo or of a variety of colors to be filled with fountain soda, water or Gatorade. After the initial purchase, concessions will refill the cup for $1 for each returning visit. To further encourage recycling, those who bring their own 8-24-ounce container can also receive a $1 fill. Containers left on the stands will later be collected and sanitized for further use. Our goal is to limit the amount of recyclables we put in the trash so anything helps,” Belinda said. The project spurred from the two-year program, Uncommon Sense: business leadership for a sustainable future, that helps businesses and organizations make changes to promote sustainability. While attending the second workshop in October, Belinda, Nell and other attendees examined responsible purchasing practices and brainstormed ideas of how to minimize waste. As the junior class advisor in charge of concessions and clean up, Belinda was well aware of the plastic and aluminum i t ems thrown away, rather than placed in the recycling bins provided. To further investigate, she offered extra credit to Environmental Science students to pick through the dumpster after a playoff game and identify the waste and recyclables thrown out. Her finding revealed 50% trash, 20% cans, 25% plastic and 5% food waste. “By getting rid of plastic bottles and aluminum cans, we are lowering our waste stream immensely. I’m very excited. It means less trash to pick up and we are doing something for the environment.” Belinda also said the junior class offered to donate to the school new bottle filling retrofit fountains that make it easier for reusable bottles to be refilled. To continue their efforts to make the schools more environmentally sound, they enrolled in the Montana Green School Challenge, whose goal is to come up with creative ways to reduce envi ronmental impact. Not only have they submitted the reusable container idea for the high school, they are also working to place recycling bins at the K-8 level and looking to purchase a milk dispenser to reduce waste of milk cartons, which cannot be recycled. “Because of Uncommon Sense, we want to meet certain objectives. The hope is that we don’t stop and we continue to improve,” said Belinda. Ac c o r d i n g t o t h e Opening day action of high school basketball Reusable cups to help “green” Red Lodge sporting events Uncommon Sense mission statement, “The Red Lodge School District is committed to achieving environmental s u s t a i n a b i l i t y wi t h i n our schools and our community. We will teach the principles and science of sustainability, model them in our day-to-day operations and inspire younger generations of leaders to be aware and routinely practice behaviors that support sustainability.” Superintendant Mark Brajcich, a proponent of the schools’ “green” initiatives encourages the community to also become involved. “We are truly blessed to live in such a beautiful place, and I think it is a good idea to develop habits that will lessen the impact we are making. The school has been recycling items for years, and this is just another step towards trying to protect what we currently enjoy day in and day out.” “We just want to think about our future,” Belinda said. As a pilot project, the hope is that the community will continue to support the schools and provide feedback to help develop sustainability projects for upcoming years.