John Hustis Elementary School students Lily Pasbrig, Koltin Her and Ruthie Shotton display what paper they recycle at their school. The trio are part of the Green Team, which helps to inform students and teachers alike of the importance of recycling and saving energy.

HUSTISFORD -- R is for recycling.

Just ask the students at John Hustis Elementary, especially the members of the school's -- Green Team.

The team is supervised and led by instructors, Jaime Hardgrove and Lori Collien, who organized a group of students to learn about the importance of recycling, reusing and reducing.

The Green Team collects batteries, plastic grocery bags and even markers for recycling. They also have labeled and made sure all of the school's classrooms have recycling containers. Green Team members visit the school's classrooms to talk with students and teachers on how they can better their own environment and save energy.

"One of the reasons we decided to do this was to make a better earth for all of us," said 9-year-old Ruthie Shotton.

Her fellow teammate, Layla Thimm, 9, said the group has been learning about the importance associated with composting.

"We have been doing a lot of research on composting and how it can help everyone," Thimm said.

Hardgrove said the Green Team is awaiting approval by the school board to start its own composting pile.

Thimm said anything that grows can be composted, including fruits, vegetables and even some paper products except shiny or glossy gift wrap.

"It all comes down to green and brown materials like freshly-cut lawn clippings without chemicals on them or old leaves that will easily break down and enrich the ground," Thimm said.

The youngster said she plans on creating a compost pile this summer at her home.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 2 million tons of food waste was composted in 2015. In comparison, more than 30 million tons of food waste went to landfills.

"If we can keep it out of the landfills and use it for something good like vegetable gardens or flower beds that's a great thing," Thimm said.

Lily Pasbrig, 9, said every day a small group from the Green Team will go from class to class at John Hustis to make sure lights are shut off when they are not in use and paper is being properly recycled and not just thrown in the trash cans.

"It save a lot of energy and money," Pasbrig said. "Every little bit helps."

There are simpler things to do, said Joey Luebke.

"If drawing paper is wet we can wait for it to dry and then use it," he said. "Instead of throwing it away and grabbing a new piece of paper."

Hardgrove said the classroom who earns the most energy saving points from turning off lights, recycling paper and plastic bags and bottles and batteries wins the Green Team award for the month.

"It's a small incentive with big rewards to it," she said. "The students take the responsibility in making the world a better place."

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