By Amy Russell
Students from Sage International School’s Green Team presented an innovative, sustainable program to promote recycling in parks at Tuesday’s Boise City Council work session. Sage students approached Boise Parks & Recreation with their new idea for an outdoor recycling bin, named Terra Luna, which addressed the City Council’s desire to increase the number of recycling bins in Boise’s parks. Over the last 18 months Sage students, in partnership with Parks & Recreation, have worked with community businesses to refine and construct Terra Luna, which mounts onto the city’s existing trash cans.
“We’re a group of 10th and 11th graders that wanted to do something good for our community” said Ali Ryan, a 10th grade representative of Sage’s Green Team. “We knew that if we wanted this recycling bin to work, it would have to be functional, it would have to be unique, and it had to be flexible with the constraints that we were working with, and thus our first prototype was born.”
Students created their first prototypes themselves, using chicken wire, papier-mâché, wood, and duct tape. “At first it was hard to get all of our ideas to fit together,” reflected Tanner Smith, a 10th grade member of Sage’s Green Team. “It was fun to see how everyone would come together and then get it all into one thing and agree.”
Parks & Recreation met multiple times with students to discuss the bin’s dimensions and use. Students then worked with ECCO Saftey Group, of Boise, to refine the bin’s design and then sent the finished prototype to Custom Roto Molding in Caldwell to begin production.
“[The Terra Luna project] taught me a few leadership skills that I didn’t have, and it taught me a few social and business skills that I didn’t have before, since we had to get a patent” said Smith.
The can is made with partially recycled materials and designed to allow mowers to move underneath it. The bin also does not need additional concrete pads to be build – which is required of current recycling cans. “I love the way it sits there” shared Mayor Dave Bieter “It sits up so you notice that first… I like the way that your eyes are drawn to the color and to the height, and that would be great even if you didn’t have to mow under it.”
If the City of Boise chooses to install the Terra Luna on all 750 trash cans in its system, savings could be $40,000-50,000 over traditional recycling bins. Tom Governale, of Boise Parks & Recreation, explained that the purchase and instillation costs for Terra Luna were less than commercial bins. Savings could range from $5 to $20 for purchase, and $50 to $120 for instillation on each can.
Council member TJ Thomson told students “You’ve really mastered something that we have to juggle every day. That’s finding taxpayer savings, finding a match to the cost, to make it worthwhile to the citizens we represent, while also helping the environment.”
Boise Parks & Recreation will be putting Terra Luna recycling bins into Julia Davis Park starting in April to compare against commercially available bins. Governale said “After a couple month trial period, I’m fully anticipating this is going to be our bin. “
Council member Scott Ludwig commended students, saying that this is “what Boise is all about. Having young kids like you who are smart, and want to make the city better.”