On the surface, Greenfield Elementary may look just like all of the other elementary schools in Gilbert. Tour the school and you begin to realize you are in a special place, due largely to the efforts of longtime Building Manager, Jerry Gift.
Much of Mr. Gift’s 23-year tenure with the school has been spent championing environmentally conscious change. Several years ago, Mr. Gift made note of the often only partially filled trash dumpsters on the school site. The dumpster volume was taken up largely by non-recyclable Styrofoam used during the lunch service, making thrice weekly pickup service necessary.
Mr. Gift presented a solution to the school principal – a machine to melt down the Styrofoam. Not only would the Styrofoam be compacted to take up less space, the 4x4x2 foot condensed Styrofoam could be sold and used as an alternative fuel source or be made into other products like planters. Gilbert Public Schools’ services were sold on the idea and purchased a Thermo Compactor for Greenfield Elementary.
Mr. Gift encourages the elementary students to serve as volunteers in assisting the school’s recycling efforts.
“I like to keep it simple with the students by having them do the same jobs everyday thus making them feel more confident in their role as recyclers,” says Gift.
The schools combined efforts to recycle Styrofoam as well as milk cartons and aluminum cans, have cut their weekly trash pickup service from 3 times a week to 2 times a week. This minor change not only reduced costs but also the carbon footprint required to service the receptacles more often. A win-win all around!
Mr. Gift’s reduce, reuse, recycle efforts did not stop there. He suggested removing one overhead bulb from every fixture in the facility that would normally use two, resulting in a marked cost savings for the school. Mr. Gift is a modest man who does not solicit recognition for his actions. He is quick to point out that he works with a “very supportive staff” and credits the wonderful students who he inspires to go the extra mile and do their part to contribute each day the school’s recycling efforts.
Mr. Gift’s forward thinking and willingness to think globally and act locally is what makes him Gilbert’s Reduce Reuse and Recycle Hero of the month. We salute you Mr. Gift!
Do you know someone who could be Gilbert’s next RRR Hero of the Month? Nominate them today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.