Return-It Blog

Return-It Schools take recycling to another level

It’s been an amazing 2018/2019 school year for the Return-It School Contest, which received countless recycling success stories from B.C. elementary, middle and high schools. Every spring, hundreds of schools who take part in the Return-It School program have an opportunity to share and enter their recycling stories into a contest. Return-It’s School Contest is focused on empowering the leaders of tomorrow by providing an incentive for students in B.C. to take their recycling initiatives to the next level. More than two million students have been inspired by the program over the last 19 years. Last year alone, 287 schools took part. As we celebrate 25 years of environmental stewardship, the School Contest continues to underpin a mandate of empowering change through education.

We received a number of incredible entries from BC Schools. Our team was filled with excitement and inspiration as we read so many moving accounts of students of all ages elevating their schools and communities to take their recycling initiatives to the next level.

“Recycling is the cornerstone of environmental action in our communities, and it remains a critical part of the solution for keeping our oceans and waterways clean,” said Allen Langdon, President and CEO of Return-It. “All the schools who participated in the contest have taken recycling to the next level in their schools and communities. It’s inspiring to see the results that can be achieved when a dedicated group of students are motivated by a common goal.”

After some tough decision-making, our judges selected four very impressive school stories: Tsi Deldel Elementary in the Tsilhqot’in territory, Aubrey Elementary in Burnaby, Heritage Woods Secondary in Port Moody and Kalamalka Secondary in Coldstream, B.C. Check out the great initiatives these leaders of tomorrow are engaging in to make our planet greener below.

Tsi Deldel Elementary School’s New Community Recycling System

Students at Tsi Deldel School were faced with a real challenge when they set out to promote recycling in their small community. Until recently, the small First Nations community of Tsi Deldel in Tsilhqot'in territory of Central British Columbia had no recycling infrastructure.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of students at Tsi Deldel Elementary School, which was spearheaded by 13 students in the grade four, five and six class, Return-It bins have been placed throughout the community. The school has since collected over 20,000 beverage containers, which are transported to Williams Lake for processing. That dedication has been rewarded by a first place, $5,000 cash prize from the Return-It School Contest to support ongoing efforts.

Tsi Deldel Elementary plans to use the funds to support class field trips, and build on their success of bringing recycling infrastructure to the community.

Read the full details of their efforts here

Aubrey Elementary School’s Green Team

The real-life superheroes at Aubrey Elementary researched and implemented no fewer than 17 sustainability initiatives – ranging from educating their fellow students about the basics of recycling, to building a worm composter that provided soil for a school-wide gardening day. By addressing the school’s waste, the 28-member Green Team was able to collect and divert 1,656 beverage containers from landfill to help raise funds for the school playground.

A student-produced video chronicling the Green Team’s sustainability escapades – executed in a creative, superhero-movie style – is available for viewing and download here.

Return-It has rewarded Aubrey Elementary’s efforts with a $2,500 donation, which they plan to use to purchase and construct a rooftop beehive, plus build a small greenhouse.

Read the full details of their efforts here

Heritage Woods Secondary’s Environment Club

The Environment Club at Heritage Woods Secondary  went above and beyond to reach their wider community with their recycling knowledge.

Realizing that making a big impact would require outreach to the broader community, 35 passionate students in the Heritage Woods Environment Club spread their recycling message of ‘Know Where It Goes, Think Before You Throw’ through an entertaining video about the new district-wide sorting bins. They were able to divert 21,600 beverage containers from the landfill and engage approximately 32,000 students in nearly 70 schools.

Heritage Woods Secondary plans to use their 1st place award of $5,000 to expand its school garden, and develop a biodegradable or reusable container program for its cafeteria.

Read the full details of their efforts here

Kalamalka Secondary’s Environment Club

Kalamalka Secondary’s Environment Club has a vivid understanding of the need to protect the environment – the school itself is named after its neighboring lake, Kalamalka Lake. But until the Environment Club was started two years ago, students and staff alike had little awareness of the amount of materials ending up in the school’s waste bins.

Supported by an improved recycling system that accommodates a wider range of materials, students have recycled close to 10,000 beverage containers. In addition to this, the students have started a composting system that in turn supports the school’s ‘Kalagarden’, which has yielded a plentiful variety of vegetables and herbs.

Kalamalka Secondary plans to use the School Contest second place prize money of $2,500 to build on the good work their Environment Club is doing, as well as spreading awareness.

Read the full details of their efforts here

Congratulations to all four schools for such incredible leadership initiatives. The hard work and dedication of each student who took part in the Return-It School Contest makes it clear that we can all make a difference for the environment. We couldn’t be more excited to see how each school’s innovative environmental programming develops in the coming years!

Questions about this blog post? Please contact us at or 1-855-350-2345 for more information.