Sometimes fledgling ideas have a way of connecting people and building momentum that can change outlooks or behaviors throughout a community.

The Green Team at Upper Arlington's Windermere Elementary School is one example.

Started roughly 10 years ago to recycle paper and other products used in classrooms and the school cafeteria, the Green Team has evolved to encourage both recycling and composting.

And second-grade teacher Noelle Fox sees the club influencing students who recycle and reuse food, paper and products generated at school that otherwise would go to area landfills and those who take those practices home.

"It's service-learning," Fox said. "It's for kids that are passionate about the environment.

"It is my hope that the students who work on the Green Team are learning about how to care for the environment. I hope that these habits that we are instilling in our students are ones they can easily do at home in order for them to care for the environment and be healthier people at home."

Green Team membership is voluntary and mostly is limited to fourth- and fifth-graders.

However, Fox and Jen Savage, a deaf-education teacher at Windermere, like to allow interested third-graders to take part in some activities toward the end of each school year, in hopes that they'll be the next generation of Green Team members.

This year, about 25 students participate in the club. On Mondays, they collect used paper from classrooms to be deposited in the school's recycling bin.

Each Wednesday, Green Team members give up a portion or all of their recesses to direct fellow students in the cafeteria to deposit recyclable items from their lunches into a collection bin and to place used and leftover fruits and vegetables into a compost bucket.

In addition to working to reduce the strain on landfills and to facilitate new uses for papers and plastics, their work also spreads "green" initiatives to students who aren't club members.

"First, we remind them to be eating their healthy foods," Fox said.

"But our goal also is to make sure these things aren't going into a landfill. Most of the kids now know what can be composted."

Windermere fourth-grader Luke Ashby demonstrated by noting, "Everything you grow with seeds, you can put in (the composting bucket). Or if it has skin, like potatoes.

"It's worth it to miss recess and make the environment better."

Many Green Team members agreed. Some, like fourth-grader Amalia Cardoso, said they're motivated to "keep our community in UA clean and fresh and to educate people how they can do it."

"When we compost, we help grow more plants, and when we recycle, we keep more trash out of the ocean," fourth-grader Megan Sethi said.

Classmate Emma Smith said composting helps "to make rich soil," and fourth-grader Aidan Montero said the Green Team aims to "help reduce trash and make more soil and healthy food."

After the composting bucket is filled each Wednesday, the Green Team weighs it to see how much material is collected. Typically, Fox uses the bounty to enhance her garden at home, or passes it on to other gardeners.

On April 12, the students collected 16 pounds of composting material, mostly orange and banana peels.

"They're an enthusiastic group," Fox said. "I think outreach to the community through this program would be a goal, but through the work we've done with recycling and composting here, I would hope they would be life skills the kids can take home."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate