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Recycling kits help educate students remotely

Homewood Disposal recycling kits have helped local kids learn about environmental responsibility through the pandemic. (Provided photo)

Though classroom teaching has mostly been virtual this past year, Homewood Disposal did not slow down on implementing recycling education. The company distributed Recycling Education Toolkits to the communities it serves so students can continue learning how to make their environment healthy. 

Homewood Disposal has operated since 1956 following four core values of service, stewardship, community and family. One of its signature programs is Planet Protectors, which teaches kids how to recycle and save the environment. 

Megan McElligott-Laxton has been with Homewood Disposal for 21 years. She has served as the education coordinator for eight years, since the inception of the education program.

The program teaches younger kids about the recycling process and proper ways to recycle in the hopes that they spread the information to their parents and get them involved as well.


The teaching program gets students excited about recycling. McEllligott-Laxton finds most of the excitement usually comes from first through fourth graders who are more receptive to learning about the program. It’s especially noticeable as Earth Day approaches and interest is generated about recycling. She said questions about what happens to garbage after you throw it away and how a garbage truck works spark kids’ interests, and even teachers learn something new. 

Last year Homewood Disposal made adjustments to the way recyclable materials were collected. This was mainly due to ensuring the safety of staff and minimizing the exposure risk during the onset of the pandemic. Some of the changes included informing the public that personal protective equipment was not recyclable. 

The pandemic also affected the implementation of programs. Expecting that learning would still be remote in 2021, McElligot-Laxton and her team created Recycling Education Toolkits so students would not miss the opportunity to learn. The toolkits were distributed to communities that Homewood Disposal serves, reaching 100 teachers and over 2,500 students. 

Each kit included 25 Wendy the Waste Truck coloring and activity books with Planet Protector badges; 25 pencils made from recycled material; “Can I recycle it?” flashcards; an “Adventures with Wendy” project; and a flash drive loaded with videos and printable content. 

“It went really well,” says McElligott-Laxton. “We went through all of our kits in a couple weeks, which was great. It went to schools that we talked to in the past and also new people who had just discovered the program, so it was a great way to reach everyone.”

While the hope is to get back to physically being among the students in class, McElligott-Laxon says there are plans to continue the toolkit program for those not yet returning to the classroom and for communities that Homewood Disposal typically doesn’t go to. This ensures that everyone is getting the education they need to help make the environment sustainable. 

In addition to taking advantage of the free educational resources on their website, McElligot-Laxton encourages everyone to know what and how to recycle. 

“It is just really important that we’re making sure we’re recycling the right thing so that everyone can get the most out of the program,” she said. 

To find out more about the educational resources for students, visit https://mydisposal.com/kids.

Correction: This story originally suggested that people should bag recyclable material, but recyclables should be placed loose in curbside containers. The Chronicle apologizes for the error.

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