Portsmouth, VA – Julie Wilds and her two homeschooled daughters–Gabrielle, age 8, and Meredith, age 6–have a mission: 12 River Star School plaques on their wall by the time the girls go to college.

The Wilds� HomeschoolAfter seeing Princess Elizabeth of the Elizabeth River Project give a presentation and learning about River Star Schools and the Youth Recognition program, the Wilds were inspired to make a positive impact on the environment and their home river.

Gabrielle and Meredith began collecting recyclable trash and channeling it into the recycling stream. The results are impressive! So far, these two young ladies have

  • removed 217 pounds of pollution out of air,
  • saved 62 trees from being cut down,
  • saved 14,842 kilowatts of energy from being used to produce new paper,
  • saved 7.24 barrels of oil,
  • saved 13,394 pounds of lumber from being made into virgin paper,
  • saved 86,880 gallons of water, and
  • saved 11.6 cubic yards of landfill space.

“We started collecting recyclable paper from our neighborhood as a homeschool project. It was also a way to help Gabrielle cope when she saw local trees being cut down, which saddens her immensely. Even if the old tree is a danger to homes or wires, it brought her to tears,’ says Mrs. Wilds.

“Here in Swimming Point, SPSA doesn’t offer us many options in paper recycling as we are clumped together with the business recycling in Olde Towne. They will not pick up cardboard, chipboard, magazines, catalogs (which fill our mail slots daily), etc. So Gabrielle, Meredith, and I started collecting on the first Friday of every month. We take our Jeep with our trailer around the neighborhood and collect whatever anyone puts out for us.” According to Mrs. Wilds, the tiny clean-up crew began in October 2007 and have since collected over 7,200 pounds of paper that would have gone into the landfill. “We take our paper to the Tidewater Fiber Corporation in Chesapeake to add to their fiber piles,” she says.

“We and our neighbors save our paper products throughout the month. Our house alone can fill the large garbage can that our city provides us with each month. No garbage, just paper products,” explains Mrs. Wilds. “We can see our impact on the landfill by each trailer full of paper we take to recycle. There are only about 14 households that regularly donate, so we could do much better–but we are thankful for those who do participate! The project takes only about three hours a month, yet it has made a huge impact on the environment and on how people feel about recycling in Swimming Point.