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Students recycling empty milk cartons

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Students recycling empty milk cartons
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As it becomes more and more the norm, recycling is becoming a bigger part of everyday life. It's even being stressed at schools. Trying to get kids started early. At one North Country school, students have started recycling empty milk cartons. But as our Brian Dwyer reports, it's something that can't really catch on all across the area because in some places, those cartons can't be recycled.

ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY, N.Y. -- Recycling is something that is not just talked about at West Side Elementary School in Gouverneur, it's stressed. So when Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County called about a new program that would have students recycling their empty milk cartons, the school jumped on board.

"I thought it was important for the children to have added amounts of recycling because it's important for them to see what one little piece each day can give back and contribute to our school, our community and our environment," West Side Elementary Principal Charity Zawatski said.

"They absorb so much information," Sayre Stevens of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County said. "It's really important for them to learn this at a young age and to develop a healthy habit."

But it's also something that many other students in the North Country can't do. Milk cartons aren't accepted as recyclable in either Jefferson or Lewis counties. Cornell Cooperative and the Development Authority of the North Country are trying to raise awareness of that.

Principal Zawatski says it's making a huge difference at her school.

"That equates to about 10 pounds of trash every day," she said. "Our trash gets picked up every two weeks, so we have 10 bags of trash that's just milk cartons that go in the recycle bin."

The students say it's pretty cool to know what they're doing has such an impact.

"You can use it for different things if you recycle," third grader Jaelyn Stevens said. "If you do cardboard, you can turn it into something else and it's safe for our planet."

"We practice a lot and we get better and better every day as we practice," Riley Lamanteer, also a third graded, added.

Not only is it safer for the environment, but the school says it's actually saving quite a bit of money on the trash bill as well.

Cornell Cooperative and the Development Authority of the North Country says local landfills are filling up too fast and every little bit of recycling helps.

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