Public schools are generally behind the times when it comes to recycling. With budget crunches constantly threatening school districts, anything that might impose new costs up front is generally put on the back burner.

Unfortunately, schools also generate monstrous amounts of waste, from the cafeteria to the classroom. At James Island Charter High School, biology teacher Michelle Lee decided to take action. The biology club began collecting recycling in 2005 under her watch and has since grown into a separate recycling club. Twice a month, the student volunteers gather paper, bottles, cans, ink cartridges, batteries, and whatever else the school can divert from the waste stream. They haul it to the street, where every two weeks they fill a dozen 95-gallon bins — a total of 1,140 gallons of waste that would otherwise be landfilled or burned in the incinerator.