Marcal Small Steps Honors Peter Stetson For Green Efforts
This Coventry High School science teacher is recognized for his hand in helping the environment.
Peter Stetson, an environmental earth science teacher at Coventry High School, has been making his students aware of their environment for 29 years. His hard work and expertise is now being recognized after he organized paper, bottle and can recycling programs at the school.
Members of the school's Envirothon Club repeatedly asked Stetson about ways that they could recycle at school. A paper recycling program was born and soon connected with the club. In 2004, Stetson contacted John Conole, director of Coventry's Regional Career and Technical Center, who helped him come up with startup money for bins and materials. The Department of Public Works began supplying the high school with recycling bins for the classrooms and a large green bin for weekly collection.
Students volunteer after school to collect the recycled paper on the first floor and members of the science club do the same on the second floor. Within the first year, the program had recycled 150 tons of paper.
Last year, Stetson received a grant from Keep America Beautiful to encourage more recycling in the school. It was used to start a can and bottle program by purchasing four rolling bins, two for each cafeteria.
Between 2008 and 2010, two poster contests were offered to CHS students, one for paper and one for cans and bottles to get them excited about recycling. Students submitted their poster ideas for a chance to win prizes, and the faculty voted on the winners. The school's graphic arts department printed the posters and hung them in the cafeterias and classrooms.
A pizza party is offered to volunteers each year and Stetson explained how students from many different groups, including the National and RI Honor Societies and ROTC, participate in the program either for fun or for community service hours.
"From my standpoint, getting these materials out of the garbage is one, saving the planet, and two, saving the taxpayers of Coventry money," Stetson said. "Each resident pays a tipping fee and the higher percentage of garbage, the higher the fee."
On Jan. 3, the Marcal Small Steps company announced the launch of its inaugural Small Steps for Big Change Awards, which will honor hometown heroes who are making environmental differences in their communities.
“The Marcal Small Steps brand is based on the philosophy that small actions can make a big environmental impact. Even something as simple as purchasing household paper products from 100 percent recycled paper makes a difference,” said MJ Jolda, senior vice president of marketing.. “This campaign is about honoring the everyday environmental heroes that normally fly under the radar, but are actually making a big impact in their communities and beyond.”
To kick off the awards program, Marcal has selected five hometown heroes who embody the spirit of the Small Steps for Big Change Awards to act as judges. Stetson was chosen as one of these judges after Marcal found out about his efforts through a grant website.
"We looked at a lot of different candidates for judging and thought what Peter was doing really fit what the contest is about," said Jolda.
When asked about what advice she would give to someone looking to start a "green" program, Jolda encourages people in communities everywhere to look for opportunities. "You do need to be the advocate," she said. "Just get it started, whether it be through a church, school or any other place."
Stetson's role as a judge will consist of looking through the resumes and nominations that come in for people who are making an environmental impact in their community.
Along with the opportunity to choose the first winner of the Big Change Awards, Stetson was awarded a year's worth of Marcal products that he will be donating to Coventry High School.