Blog Posts

Explore this page to learn about the exciting activities and intitaves going on in Elkhart County. These Initiatives are all related to the programs and missions of Elkhart County Solid Waste. We will update this page periodically with news, stories and outcomes from our programs and community participants.

School Goes Above and Beyond for Waste Reduction

The Green Schools Initiative awards prizes to schools for completing recycling-related activities. Schools, in the past, have used prize money for environmental initiatives as well as school-related activities. Participants have used prize money for pollinator gardens, recycling/composting bins, field trips and playground materials. Some schools covered the cost of transportation for clubs, water fountains, and classroom materials. The Elkhart County Solid Waste website also hosts a list of suggested prize money uses.

One school had the innovative idea of using the prize money to increase their contributions to sustainability. Concord Intermediate School has collected hundreds of pounds of plastic bottle caps and lids over the years. They then send these plastic bottle caps and lids to be recycled into plastic benches. It takes 200 pounds of plastic caps and $250 to manufacture one bench.

Concord Intermediate sends its collected materials to Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, Indiana. Concord Intermediate partnered with The Dunlap Lions Club to help with the early cost of benches, and now uses their Green Schools Initiative prize money to pay for the benches. Troyer Food Club has also helped with the transportation of the recyclables and the benches to and from Evansville.

The benches will help create recreational spaces for students, reduce the number of plastics sent to the landfill, and support an Indiana company. This recycling initiative also provides a tangible opportunity for students to participate in waste reduction and conserve resources.

We celebrate all Concord Intermediate has done and encourage other organizations to be bold with their ideas for change.

Winner Announced for the Recycling Barrel Competition

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The Elkhart County 4-H Fair Green Committee hosted a Recycling Barrel Competition where they invited participants to decorate barrels. The goal of this competition was to involve clubs in a creative community service project. The Green Committee set out to provide 20 barrels on a first-come-first-serve basis. After the competition, the Green Committee will use the  30-gallon barrels for events at the 4-H fairgrounds.

The Green Committee provided the recycling barrels to eligible clubs. Interested participants could submit up to three designs for approval to the committee before receiving the barrels.

The Elkhart County Landfill announced the 2020 winners of the competition at the end of September. First place went to Kind Clover 4-H Club. Second and third place went to Elkhart County Poultry Club and Elkhart County Rabbit Club respectively. Fourth place went to Elkhart County Auto Mechanics Spark Club.

Judges ranked the overall impression, use of space, and the details/colors of the barrels. They also considered the lettering participants used, messaging, and how much the barrels related to the environment or recycling.

We at Solid Waste commend the hard work and creativity of these teams and hope to see what teams will create in the future.

Prairie View First School to be Gold Certified

The Gold Leaf Certification, given out by the Green Schools Initiative, is an impressive feat only completed by one school in the program’s four-semester run. To be considered Gold Leaf Certified, a school must complete 12 credits in one semester. Prairie View Elementary is the first school to receive the distinction.

During their last semester in the program, the spring semester of 2020, Prairie View completed the following activities:

  • Had a Teacher Green Team meet at least three times

  • Had a student recycling club that met and hosted activities

  • Placed recycling bins in all of their classrooms

  • Converted all of their printers to double-sided printing

  • Organized a school-wide recycling drive

  • Implemented a food sharing table

  • 50% of Prairie View teachers provided one classroom lesson that pertained to recycling

  • Created a green board with recycling tips

  • Organized external learning opportunities for students.

Perhaps what makes Prairie View stand out most of all is how they went above and beyond during their time in the Green Schools Initiative program. They worked hard and reached Gold Leaf Certification within three semesters. Not only that, but they installed solar panels at their school which earned them bonus credits.

Ruth Roth from Prairie View Elementary stated: “We’re grateful to you and this program for encouraging and affirming us. This is important work! We are committed to continuing and initiating new practices at Prairie View that are environmentally friendly ... It's now part of our identity and school culture, which we’re proud of.”

We certainly are proud of the accomplishments of Prairie View and are excited to congratulate future Gold Leaf Certified Schools.

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Meet the Organizations Bringing in Tons of Leaves

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The Leaf Collection Competition brings Elkhart County residents together for some friendly rivalry. This alternative to burning leaves has earned teams thousands of dollars for their organizations over the years.

Central Christian Church has led the pack for the past two competition cycles. In 2020 they visited the landfill 178 times and brought 94 tons of leaves, which earned them $18,282.42. In 2019 they collected 70 tons of leaves and surpassed the 2018 leaders, Prairie Camp, by almost half. Most impressive is Central Christian Church’s 52-ton jump from their 2018 total. Another organization, Yellow Creek MYF, also surpassed its personal best from 2018 to 2019 by 11 tons.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the leaf collection competition is how much it grows each year. Residents of Elkhart County have increasingly collected more competition leaves and non-competition leaves each year. Reducing the number of leaves burned not only earns team members money, but also improves the air quality and overall health of the community. Many participants expressed the importance of the added environmental benefits to their neighborhoods. One team, Kritzman’s, commented that the competition gave meaningful purpose to moving their leaves.

Participants noted how the competition was a great way to bond as a group and educate residents about the impacts of leaf burning. Fair Oaks Association commented that they were able to establish more ties with their neighbors and that neighbors appreciated not having to worry about leaves. Teams came together to both collect and drop off leaves periodically to the landfill. Teams also reached out to fellow community members through flyers, phone calls, social media and word of mouth. The effort put forth by participants is rewarded with their success in the program.

Teams use prize money in a variety of ways. Leaves for Light plans on using their prize money for solar street lamps at their neighborhood bus stops. Other teams use the money for their churches and other organizations. This competition shows how hard work can result in a large pay off.