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Return-It Blog

Meet the grade 7 class that gave back in a big way

Here at Return-It, we just love hearing about good news stories, especially when it’s about a group of Grade 7 students who inspired their whole school’s passion for making a difference. Last summer, Chelan Hansen, a teacher at Rutland Middle School in Kelowna, BC shared how her class came up with a way to give back to their school and make a positive impact on the environment.

The students were challenged by Ms. Hansen to come up with a way to contribute to their school’s community. The students came back with the idea of implementing a more comprehensive recycling program for the bottles and cans at the school. After a bit of research online, Ms. Hansen found the Return-It School contest, “I discovered the Return-It School contest online and signed them up. From there my classes sorted all the school’s bottle/can recycling. The classes were horrified at how poor our school recycling program previously was, and how gross the bins were. We identified and wrote down the main problems with the current system and students paired up to create a presentation to educate their peers.”

Each class got a presentation from a pair of students to increase awareness of the situation. The students noticed an improvement initially but only to a certain point. They knew there was still an opportunity to collect more containers, so they brainstormed more ideas and came up with a poster to place on and above recycling bins to make it more obvious. The students were enthused by the progress made across the entire school.

To keep the momentum going on their recycling efforts, the students held a bottle drive that doubled the money they had raised through almost a full school year of daily collection. Wanting to keep the entire school involved, the class decided to survey all the students at the school to determine the best way to use the funds they raised. “I received the surveys back and was amazed by the ideas. The students had ideas that I would have never thought of but, on reflection, are obviously important!” said Ms. Hansen.

In the end, the students decided on adding more outdoor benches, dedicated recycling bins, and clocks in the school hallways. The students at Rutland Middle School are an inspiration and we can’t wait to hear about how they’re getting involved in this year’s Return-It School campaign.

For more information, check out and find out how you can share your school’s story.