New Years resolutions, Green Step educators in the spotlight, and upcoming events in this issue of Bin Thinking
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January 2017

A Note from Jane

Every New Year is filled with the promise of new possibilities. Here are some resolutions that will make a difference at your school and in your community.

Jane Hiller
Education Director, Sonoco Recycling

In This Issue

New Year Resolutions
Field Studies
Green Step Educator Spotlights
Workshops and Events

Our Resolutions for a Green 2017

1. Get Everyone Involved!

Even the pet goat at the Barclay School helps with recycling!                                         

2. Learn how recycling creates jobs in the Carolinas.

The SC Department of Commerce’s recent video shows how plastic bottles put in our recycling bins create jobs throughout the Carolinas. Our recovery facility here in Columbia provides jobs for about 100 workers, just like Sonoco’s Raleigh facility shown in the video.

3. Improve your school’s indoor air quality by putting plants in every classroom.

Poinsettias are great indoor air quality plants – and FREE if you just ask families to donate their post-holiday plants. Students will also learn how to responsibly care for the plants. This project can count toward an SC Green Step School “Protect Air” Award. To learn more, contact
Thanks to Heyward Career Center 4H & Green Step students for this video:  Download the 4H Commercial 

4. Minimize the negative effects of chemicals in your school by switching to Green Cleaners.

There are many reasons to go green when cleaning. Fortunately, it can be pretty easy to do: Students can make an effective, chemical-free classroom cleaner and reduce lunchroom waste at the same time. Simply tear up orange peels on the days oranges are served in your cafeteria and soak them in white vinegar for a couple of weeks. The result is a concentrated cleaner that won’t contaminate water when it flows down the drain. Mix about one part cleaner with ten parts water. This project can count toward a SC Green Step School “Protect Water” Award. To learn more, contact

5. Learn about environmental issues while having fun.

Students in Daniel Cummins’ computer programming class at Lexington Technology Center created video games to teach about the negative effects of light pollution on firefly populations. Here is one of our favorite entries.

6. Create for a Cause

Teach students simple cutting and crochet skills to make plarn (plastic bag yarn) Bed Rolls for the Columbia’s homeless population. The City of Columbia Art Center will offer a training on Sunday, January 22 at 5 p.m. Contact for more information.
Interested in seeing how it’s done? Thanks to Greensboro, NC for this great tutorial.

7. Pass ‘Em On

Teachers are asking for these items: old calendars, crayons and candles. To donate, contact

PalmettoPride’s Art Contest “Litter Trashes Everyone”

Sign your class up to participate in this annual art contest! Your students will need to draw on the theme "Litter Trashes Everyone." Fantastic prizes for students and teachers!

Entries due: Feb. 17th, 2017
Contact: Sandra Bryan:
Apply Today

Arbor Day Contest Winners

Congratulations to the following schools for submitting winning entries to Richland County Soil and Water Conservation District’s 2016 Arbor Day Youth Contests:
  • AC Moore ES
  • Arden ES
  • Catawba Trail ES
  • Center for Knowledge
  • Dutch Fork ES
  • Harmony School
  • Heathwood Episcopal
  • Longleaf MS
  • SC Association of Independent Home Schools

Field Studies

Field studies aren’t only for students. Lexington Two teachers recently requested a field study at Sonoco Recycling’s Material Recovery Facility. Pictured here are the teachers with Lexington County Recycling Coordinator Rick VanDerGeest and Sonoco Recycling Educator Jane Hiller.

Green Step Educators in the Spotlight

Dr. Todd Beasley, Green Step Teacher at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, is moving to Texas to become Director of Programs at San Antonio’s Botanical Garden. Under Todd’s leadership, Heathwood students have created and maintained magnificent gardens. Last summer, the American Horticultural Society hosted their annual Symposium for Children and Youth Gardens here in Columbia due to Todd’s work at Heathwood and his inspiring influence throughout the state and beyond.
Pictured here are Todd and Richland County Green Step Mentor Chanda Cooper.
Jeanne McKinney, Green Step Leader at Meadow Glen Elementary School, Science Coach for Lexington School District One, and President of the SC Environmental Education Association (EEASC), has been selected as a State Finalist for Presidential Teaching Award.
Matt Schnabel, Green Step Mentor in Richland and Lexington Counties, has been named the Environmental Education Coordinator for the South Carolina Forestry Commission and the SC Project Learning Tree Coordinator.
Keep the Midlands Beautiful recently honored three Green Step Educators:
Jessica Alderman, Green Step teacher at Chapin High School, was named Green Educator of 2016, and the SC Wildlife Federation, led by Green Step Mentors Sara Green and Laura Blake Orr, was named 2016 Green Non-Profit of the Year. Congratulations!


January 4

SC Outreach & Informal Educators Summit: You, USC and the Eclipse
Time: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Location: USC Green Quad, Columbia
Details and Registration

January 7

E-Waste Recycling at Cayce City Hall 
Time: 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Location: Cayce City Hall, 1800 12th St. Extension
Cayce, SC
Learn more.

January 10

EEASC Midlands Meet-Up
Time: 8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.
Location: Sonoco Recycling, 1132 Idlewilde Blvd., Columbia, SC

January 16

Operation Bed Roll Teacher Workshop
Time: 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Location: Sonoco Recycling, 1132 Idlewilde Blvd., Columbia, SC
Learn how students can collect, cut and loop plastic grocery bags to make the plarn (plastic bag yarn) that is needed for this Midlands campaign to create bed rolls for the homeless.


February 1

Spare the Air Awards
Have you worked on a voluntary initiative or idea in 2016 that helps improve air quality in South Carolina? Apply for the Spare the Air Awards by February 1, 2017.
Learn more.

February 9

EEASC / Green Steps Eco Make & Sell Workshop 
Learn how to make and sell items to supply funds for future eco projects at your school. 
Time:  4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.  
Location: TBA online soon

Spotlight on Past Workshops

EEASC/ Green Steps Monarch, Milkweed and Migration Workshop                      
Read about Irmo Middle School’s great project!
EEASC/ Green Steps Holiday Workshop                                                                         
Formal and informal environmental educators came together to celebrate their partnerships. 
(Pictured right: Gail Wilson Giarratano, Anchor Recycling, showing holiday ornament made from old VHS tape.)
Sonoco Recycling is a proud member of the Sonoco Family, a global provider of consumer packaging, industrial products, protective packaging and packaging supply chain services.
Copyright © 2017 Sonoco Recycling, All rights reserved.

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