Expo Markers are used across America's schools each day. They only last a few months, tops, and then must be thrown away. In this day and age, creating a product that uses so much plastic, and only lasts a short period of time, is irresponsible. Companies that profit from making educational tools for kids should be leaders in creating sustainable products that do not harm the environment. The makers of Expo Markers should design an easy to use program for schools to take back their markers for recycling and reuse.
We are a small group of sixth grade students and a teacher at Rumney Memorial School, in Middlesex, Vermont who make up what we call the Earth Hero team. We are working on lessening the waste from our school into our landfills to protect our ecosystems and the health of everyone in our community, both local and worldwide.
While we have a well functioning compost program, and are expanding our recycling program, we use and throw away dozens of plastic Expo markers each school year. In our classroom, we have been through over 50 markers and it is only January.
Schools are on tight budgets, as you know. Our class can’t afford the costly refillable dry erase markers on the market. The only recycling program we know of is with Terracycle, and we have yet to learn and implement that system. We also feel this shifts the focus and responsibility from the company to busy students and teachers.
We think it is irresponsible of your company to profit from such important educational tools and not consider what happens to them once it they are unusable. The amount of plastic waste from dry erase markers in all of our nation’s schools is impossible to imagine. We need your company to take responsibility for its plastic use and be a good example of environmental and social responsibility. Plus, you’ll be a good role model to us!
Please develop a program where you take back and recycle each Expo maker to make new ones. Plastic is not meant to be used only once! We need your company to close the loop so thousands of markers and dollars are wasted no more.
Here is what a few sixth grade member of our team had to say about this issue:
Earth Hero Team Member Hannah Dwire age 11 says: “We use Expo markers so much in school, and for them to be non-recyclable is just irresponsible. If we can find a way to recycle cell phones, tennis balls, and lipstick cases, why can’t one of the most used materials of schools around America be recycled? It’s a waste of money, and with the economy at a low state, schools can’t afford to pay for a new set of Expo markers every month. If we’re not using them any more after they die and the ink runs out, then why can’t we make them so that they don’t go to waste? Why can’t we make them so that they’re used again and again to the end?”
Earth Hero Team Member Lucille Wood, age 11 says: “In our society today, we already waste so much. Why should we add to the list by throwing away Expo markers? Chalkboards are slowly but surely disappearing, and whiteboards are the more practical choice. Budgets are getting cut here and there, and whiteboard markers aren’t exactly the number-one priority. Teachers want to invest in markers that aren’t only long lasting, but renewable, too. Every time I find a dried out Expo marker, I can’t bring myself to throw it away with a good conscience. Recycling helps spare eligible items from unnecessarily going into the landfill. Teachers use Expo markers a lot, and just think how many markers we could save by re-inserting the markers into the recycling cycle instead of throwing them away. If we start recycling Expo markers, we can make the world a greener place, one marker at a time.”
Derek Campbell, a 12-year-old sixth grader, says, “It is ridiculous how many plastic Expo markers get thrown away every day at schools in America. I think that the Expo marker company should try and make their markers made of materials that can be recycled into new Expo markers for school. We are kids, and you are adults, please understand your products are hurting the earth. If we could recycle them instead, they would never end up in our landfills.”
The Earth Hero team at Rumney Memorial School is focused on reducing waste from school and individuals with their sixth grade teacher and mentor, Katy Farber. We have set up completed waste audits, and improved and enhanced the recycling and composting programs in our school.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Katy Farber and the Earth Hero Team from Rumney Memorial School in Middlesex, Vermont