Dorchester Organization Teaches Children the Importance of Recycling

It’s no secret that teachers frequently fall victim to long hours and low pay. As education positions and elective courses like music and art continue to be slashed from the budget every day, many of the teachers who have managed to keep their jobs are forced to pay out of pocket for school supplies to furnish their classrooms. Amidst the sustainable revolution that’s sweeping the country, a Dorchester organization has found a way to fuse the importance of recycling with education.  Extras for Creative Learning offers Boston area teachers, artists, and parents recycled classroom materials at either no cost or low cost. Stocked with items ranging from art supplies to paper, foam, and office furniture, Extras for Creative Learning gives new life to items deemed “useless.” Generally donated by area business owners and manufacturers, donors recognize the value of teaching children to embrace their creative side. “We receive donations from Adidas, Rockport, Staples, and lots of private donors,” one staff member tells us. “Since the recession, we’ve been selling 8 to 10 memberships a day.” The price of a membership is dependent upon the person, but people generally save anywhere from $500 to $3000 each visit.

A former art teacher in the Worcester and Melrose Public Schools, ECL’s Executive Director Jodi Schmidt wanted to find a way to merge her love of art and the environment. All too familiar with the need for low-cost materials in the classroom, she decided to take action and create an organization that gives children an opportunity to utilize their creative side, while learning about the importance of recycling.

Thus far, the need for low-priced school supplies is apparent in Boston area public schools. A Belmont 4th grade teacher we spoke with emphasized the changes in recent years. “Teachers’ supply closets aren’t as full as they used to be. If I spent $300 a year on my classroom, then that would be low.”

If you’re interested in donating money, materials, or time to Extras for Creative Learning, please visit

A contributor writer for DirectoryofBoston’s blog, Megan Johnson is originally from Connecticut, but has lived in Boston since age 18. She frequently writes for MenuPages Boston, Butterfly Diary, Reinventing Beauty Magazine, and SweetTalk on the Spot. You can visit her website at

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