Virginia Secretary of Education Gerard Robinson and Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech have joined with PepsiCo and Waste Management to encourage K-12 schools in the Commonwealth to participate in the Dream Machine Recycle Rally program in celebration of Earth Week.
The Dream Machine Recycle Rally, as one pillar within the broader Dream Machine recycling initiative, aims to raise awareness among students about the importance of recycling. Participating schools earn points for every non-alcoholic aluminum can or plastic bottle collected through the program, and can redeem those points online for rewards from local businesses and national retailers, including school supplies, sporting equipment, gift cards and electronics.
PepsiCo will also provide support to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities for all the bottles and cans recycled through the program.
“We are excited to announce our collaboration with the Dream Machine Recycle Rally to teach and encourage students, teachers and parents the importance of recycling,” says Robinson. “This sustainability project will not only provide environmental benefits but also increase resources for our schools. We hope to influence positive habits of environmental sustainability and reduce the carbon footprint of our next generation.”
Once individual schools sign-up to participate and are accepted into the Dream Machine Recycle Rally program, the school receives a scanner and laptop to tally can and bottle collections and manage point redemptions, as well as a toolkit to support program promotions.
Waste Management coordinates the pickup and processing of the recyclables.
All eligible schools that register before April 15, 2011 will be entered into a drawing to win one of five $1,000 prizes to be used toward the purchase of energy efficient technology. Currently, approximately 400 schools nationwide have been registered in the program and nearly 2.5 million containers have been collected through the Dream Machine Recycle Rally.
In addition, Waste Management and Discovery Education created interactive learning exercises specific for each grade level. Teachers have access to lesson plans, worksheets and videos that cover a wide range of environmental topics from renewable energy to conservation techniques, which are available online.
Virginia teachers currently cover recycling and environmental sustainability in all K-12 science courses. These lessons reinforce those taught in the classroom and tested in the Virginia Standards of Learning exams.
Speaking about the program, Domenech says, “Recycling is one simple way that individuals can contribute directly to the environmental health of their communities and conserve natural resources. It is great to see the Dream Machine Recycle Rally working with schools to encourage and promote the cleanup of our environment. In the Commonwealth, every aluminum can or plastic bottle recycled is one step in the right direction toward a healthier and cleaner Virginia.”
Robinson and Domenech plan to attend events during Earth Week to promote the Dream Machine Recycle Rally program and environmental sustainability throughout the Commonwealth. Additional information will be posted on the Websites for the state departments of Education and Natural Resources.