This year’s Trick or Trash™ recycling and education campaign, designed to help reduce the waste that accumulates every year around Halloween, is well underway.

The campaign, now in its third year, provides safe and easy-to-assemble recycling boxes to schools and small businesses, as well as a critical educational component, co-created by Rubicon® and the National Wildlife Federation, that focuses on the role of recycling within the circular economy with K-12 lesson plans, a reading list for university and college students, and a useful factsheet for business participants. Last year, more than 730 schools and small businesses in all 50 U.S. states took part in Trick or Trash, and we are currently on track to more than double that number for 2021!

For this Trick or Trash Spotlight, I spoke with Lori Rubio, a K-6 teaching assistant with a specialization in technology at Elmcrest Elementary School in Liverpool, New York.

What drew you to participate in Trick or Trash?

This is my school’s third year participating in Trick or Trash! About four years ago, we started a school-wide recycling program called “The EE Guide to Going Green.” Students started recycling milk cartons, yogurt containers, cardboard, tin foil, and beverages bottles in the cafeteria. Through this recycling program, our garbage dropped by over 75 percent!

During this time, Student Council Members went to each class to talk about recycling and the importance of reducing and reusing. We started a regular feature on our morning broadcast with tips and tricks for recycling, climate change, etc. We encourage students to use reusable water bottles and reusable lunch containers. Kids are so proud when they feel like they are helping the environment. So, when I received an email from a teacher about Trick or Trash three years ago, I jumped on it! We ordered the box and filled it up rather quickly. The students brought in wrappers that were theirs, and also from neighbors, family, etc. I loved the simplicity of it, but the impact was so big. The students here at EE truly felt like they were doing something so good.

What do Elmcrest Elementary students enjoy most about Trick or Trash?

Students love to see the box filling up. Just when they think it is full, we push the wrappers down and can add more. Elmcrest students are very knowledgeable about recycling and its importance because we pride ourselves on being one of the best schools in our district when it comes to recycling.

I keep the whole school updated each week on how full the box is. We show the video provided by Rubicon on our morning broadcast so that everyone knows what, how, and why we are participating in Trick or Trash.

How do you teach the Trick or Trash lesson plan in school?

I share the lessons with all of the teachers here at Elmcrest, but I also know that they do not have as much time as they’d like to do each activity. We have some half days of school around Halloween so there are more opportunities for us to work on “special” activities. Our special area team helps me to work on some of the activities with the students.

This is a great opportunity for us to hear what the students have to say about recycling at school and at home.

What are the most common questions that you get from students, parents, and other teachers about Trick or Trash?

The most common question I get from students and teachers is “Is this allowed in the box?” They will have a wrapper that they aren’t sure about. We reiterate on our morning broadcast what can go in the box and what can’t. Students also bring their wrappers in a plastic bag and ask if that can go in the box, too. We actually recycle clean, clear plastics here so I have a receptacle for them.

Parents usually ask me if they can put candy wrappers in their weekly recycling bins at home. I refer them to our local recycling program to give them a list of what can and cannot go in the blue bins.

Finally, what has been the most common candfy wrapper in your Trick or Trash box so far?

Wow, that’s a tough question! I’d have to say Sour Patch Kids is our most common, followed by chocolate wrappers like M&M’s, Snickers, Milky Way, etc. I am sometimes so shocked by the number of wrappers one student will bring in. I have seen gallon size bags full of wrappers!

Katie Kinnear is Director of Engagement Strategy at Rubicon and was the inspiration behind creating the Trick or Trash campaign. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.