Is There A Chesnut Changer in the Schoolhouse?

IMG_0965IMG_0963Yes, now there are more than 400 of us!

With the recent win of a Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden Grant, Chesnut has committed to a three-year program that will ultimately enable all faculty to teach math, social studies, science and language arts standards via outdoor lessons with a focus on environmentalism. As a result, we have disbanded our monthly after-school Ecology Club, and will instead focus our efforts on including all Chesnut students in such programs throughout the school year.

IMG_0969In a sense, the fourth and fifth grader Chesnut Changers’ wish came true — we did develop a “secret door to the garden” — by availing ourselves of Captain Planet’s resources to help build a school-wide culture around environmental stewardship. Captain Planet provides instructional materials including a mobile cooking cart, standards-based curriculum and faculty training, as well as Food Corps volunteers as classroom facilitators.

In addition to having five School Master Gardeners on staff, this month Chesnut will also have six Project Learning Garden trainees, including fifth grade teachers Ms. Bock and Ms. Wessels, fourth grade teachers Ms. Denson and Ms. Onorato, first grade teacher Ms. Skoog and school counselor Ms. Sule. More to come on what they bring back to Chesnut from their training. In the meanwhile, we will continue to share news of the latest Chesnut Changer happenings.

Closing out the last year of Ecology Club by cooking up a batch of recycled crayons in leaf shapes!

Sat., Nov. 8th: Dunwoody Recycles at Georgia Perimeter College

WHAT:  City of Dunwoody’s Annual Recycling Event 

WHEN: Saturday, November 8, 12 – 3 pm

WHO:  Dunwoody Residents Only with driver’s license or other proof of residency

WHERE:  Georgia Perimeter College, 2101 Womack Road, Parking Lot 11 (Traveling East on Womack Rd, turn right in to the first GPC entrance)

Items Accepted:

  • Aerosols
  • Adhesives, resins, and epoxies
  • Batteries
  • Paper documents to be shredded
  • Mercury debris/articles/devices
  • Lawn care products and pesticides
  • Automotive products
  • Fluorescent bulbs
  • Photo chemicals
  • Hobby and artist supplies
  • Paints and Paint-related products
  • Pharmaceuticals (no DEA controlled substances)
  • Cleaners and swimming pool chemicals

Items Not Accepted

  • Agricultural wastes
  • Ammunition
  • Bio-hazardous/bio-medical waste
  • Explosives
  • Radioactive materials
  • Poisons (rat, rodent, and insect repellents)
  • Syringes, IV bags, or other medical waste

Questions?  Contact or 678-382-6800

Chesnut Changer’s Report: Menna Michael, 4th Grader

Chesnut Changer's Report

On  Jan. 16, 2014, Ecology Club learned how to upcycle. Upcycling is when you take something you don’t need and make it useful.

We took an empty milk carton and made wallets. tetra paksFirst we cut the top and bottom and cleaned it out with a disinfectant wipe. Then we folded it into 3 creases. We pulled it back up and cut the sides to the first crease. We put duct tape on the sides and corners. Finally, we folded it in and on the creases, then put Velcro on it and you are done.

At-Home Action Icon canstockphoto2179142AT-HOME ACTION:  Upcycle any composite material container into a wallet or coin purse. To try this at home, use any composite material and follow these instructions.

Audrey, Adams, Ryleigh and Jaxon show their finished products

Audrey, Adams, Ryleigh and Jaxon show their finished products

A Start to Garbage-Free Living for Chesnut Students

IMG_4031This month Chesnut begins participating in its first TerraCycle brigade, giving Chesnut students a way to reduce their footprint every day at school. Our thanks go to new Wellness Team parent Alison Bardill, whose dream it was to launch this program ever since she attended Kindergarten Round-up.

TerraCycle is an international upcycling and recycling company that collects difficult-to-recycle packaging and products and repurposes the material into affordable, innovative products.

To understand the importance of this program, we began discussing the “Three R’s” (reducing, reusing/upcycling and recycling – in that order) in our after-school Ecology Club meetings. We watched this video on how traditional landfills operate, and this TerraCycle “What Is Garbage?” video to introduce the idea of “zero waste:” life without garbage.

It claims a startling statistic, “99% of everything you buy becomes garbage within one year of purchase.”

This TerraCycle Drink Pouch Brigade video demonstrates how Chesnut students can now reduce their trash while giving their empty drink pouches new life. During lunch or the after school program, empty plastic drink pouches (with or without straws) and empty drink pouches with spouts can be placed in two collection containers, located in the school cafeteria. TerraCycle sponsors pay for our collections to be shipped to TerraCycle where they are made into innovative products from tote bags and pencil cases to plastic lumber and pavers. On top of helping the Earth, for each unit of waste collected, Chesnut will earn TerraCycle points redeemable for donations to the school. terracycle image

Chesnut Changers Upcycle and Recycle

At our last two ecology club meetings, Chesnut Changers talked about reducing waste and putting our pledge, “Reuse, Reduce, Recycle” into practice.

We welcomed special guests, Chesnut’s Recycling Team (sponsored by fifth grade teacher Timika Howard), who facilitated our first upcycling project. Their commitment to protecting the environment is serious and they set a tone of organized efficiency as we worked on our project.

First Recycling Drive:  Save Those Broken Crayons!

Chesnut Changers Want Your Broken Crayons!

Deposit Crayon Bits Here!

The Recycling Team and Chesnut Changers Ecology Club are partnering to introduce a series of recycling drives at Chesnut, to raise awareness about recyclable items that are normally trashed. Each of the three ecology club age groups decorated receptacles for upcoming crayon, battery and sneaker drives, with messages about recycling and reducing waste.

During the month of January, Chesnut students can deposit crayons in the large crayon receptacle inside the cafeteria, either in the morning before school or after dismissal.

Project 1: Cards to Ornaments

Before the holidays, we used greeting cards, cereal and cracker boxes to create hanging globes for ornaments, decoration or gifts. The kids did an amazing job, some even adding hanging elements inside the globes.   andrew's globesaniya globeAt-Home Action Icon canstockphoto2179142

At-Home Action: Paper Globes. See picture #3 and the “Globes How-To” section here to make your own.


You’ll need: scissors, hole punch, string/yarn, brads, any card stock or think cardboard (greeting cards, cereal boxes, etc.).

Project 2: Juice Boxes to Wallets

In yesterday’s ecology club meeting, we learned that “upcycling” is taking something considered garbage, and giving it new life as a different object. Students also examined why juice boxes and other composite cartons (like Tetra Pak) are rarely recyclable:  they are made of paper, plastic and aluminum layers that require a special machine to recycle. Because our county doesn’t accept composite cartons, we worked on a way to make them useful rather than throwing them in the trash.

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At-Home Action Icon canstockphoto2179142At-Home Action: Tetra Pak Wallets (juice boxes make mini-wallets). See this video tutorial to make your own. Note that the duct tape is optional, but recommended for durability.

You’ll need: scissors, duct tape, stick-on hook/loop, stickers (optional).

DeKalb Recycling Now Free

When DeKalb County launched its Curbside Residential Recycling Program in 2005, it cost $30 to subscribe and receive your 18-gallon blue bin for paper and cardboard and 100 blue bags for glass, aluminum, plastics 1 – 7 and Styrofoam.

Those fees have now been waived!

Currently 21% of DeKalb homeowners are recycling, and by dropping the subscription fee, the County Commission hopes to gradually double our participation. By recycling our waste over the past 7 years, we have already extended the 70-year life expectancy of the county-owned Seminole Road landfill by 16 years. This saves taxpayers money in the long run because once our landfill is full, we would have to pay higher sanitation rates to have our waste hauled to a farther location.

AT-HOME ACTION:  Residents who want to sign up for recycling services can call 404-294-2900 or email Sanitation workers will drop off your bin and bags at your house (pretty convenient).

For guidelines about what can be recycled and the pick-up dates, please visit:

If you live in an apartment complex that does not offer recycling, you can bring paper and cardboard to DeKalb County libraries and fire stations.

Anyone can also drive over to the Keep North Fulton Beautiful Recycling Center on Roswell Road (Morgan Falls area) where they accept a laundry list of items including aluminum, plastics 1 & 2, cardboard and paper, glass, electronics, televisions, steel, batteries of all kinds, cell phones, plastic grocery bags, fabrics and Goodwill donations. If you have been looking to recycle these or additional household items, please check out the “Recycle!” section on our Resources page.

Does our school recycle? Yes we do, with the help of our 4th and 5th grade Recycling Team, led by 5th grade teacher Ms. Timika Howard. As we look into growing that program to include more items, such as possibly electronics, crayons, wrappers and our styrofoam lunch trays, we could use some parent champions. Please email if you are interested in helping Chesnut Charter recycle.