Dumpster Diva

Teacher's recycling center turns trash to treasure

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

A preschooler sits absorbed in creating a building of blue foam cylinders. The cylinders, which were destined for the trash heap, have become a piece of art and a part of teacher Sue Blandord’s dream.

Blandford is the Executive Director of “It’s All Good,” the St. Louis Teacher’s Recycling Center in Missouri. She collects what some people consider trash and turns it into creative materials. Thanks to the recycling center, children can work with their hands while learning how to reduce, reuse, and recycle interesting materials.

“I like it when people think outside the dumpster,” Blandford told Scholastic News Online. She was dubbed the “Dumpster Diva” early in her career, although she points out that the center doesn’t actually dive into any dumpsters for its materials.

Most of the supplies come from different industries. Materials are also collected from bins distributed to schools. Teachers can use the bins to discard materials they don’t want. Another teacher in another school may have a use for what the first teacher threw away. Blandford helps make the exchange happen.

A wide variety of “treasure” is collected, stored, and redistributed to schools and various workshops. Every three months, 10,000 pounds of materials are also sold for reuse. If not for Blandford’s recycling center, this material would end up in landfills.

From the shavings of roller blade wheels to discarded Mardi Gras toys and beads, these materials are all reused and distributed to schools by the recycling center.

As she watches the preschooler working to create structure from a random pile of blue foam, Blandford talked about her joy working with kids and recycling. Using recycled materials is more than fun, she said. It also gives a kids a feeling of doing something good.

“Children see the necessity of taking care of the Earth,” she said.

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  • Part of Collection:
  • Subjects:
    Social Studies, Early Learning, Earth Science, Real-World Science, Recycling

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