Each Tuesday, as part of our Community Changers series, we highlight organizations making Memphis better.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One group is helping Memphians make a collective difference.

“We produce one point seven tons of waste annually in Shelby County and we’re only recycling about 8%. The national average is about 35%,” Boscarino said.

Janet Boscarino is the executive director of Clean Memphis — an environmental organization that educates the youth, engages leadership, and works to empower Memphians to have a cleaner, greener city.

We sat down with Janet at Sea Isle Elementary, which is one of the schools that take part in their environmental education program.

“We’re in a school multiple times throughout the school year building on environmental concepts, so that we’re really trying to change the culture of the school to one that’s more environmentally sustainable,” Boscarino said.

Clean Memphis provides hands-on activities for young students to better understand sustainability and what it means to be greener.

Brandi Bomar is their lead educator.

“I like to immerse my students in an inclusive experience so they understand the environment impacts and connect to their lives here in Memphis,” Bomar said.

We caught up with Brandi during her coal mining lesson.

For the students to grasp a concept, she brought in chocolate chip cookies and had the students take part in a cookie mining exercise.

They were tasked with removing the chocolate chips.  

“I don’t tell them at first what it’s going to mean or what the mess is going to create,” Bomar said. “Then I go back and tell them, ‘Well, what do you think we should do when we’re extracting coal? What is going to happen when they take coal out of the ground? What types of habitats is it damaging?’ So the students can actually see those different effects.”

They also teach the kids about renewable energy, recycling, composting and life science.

“If one person decides, ‘Hey, you know what? I want to recycle,’ and we inspire everyone to recycle, we can make a difference together, collectively,” Bomar said.

Clean Memphis also teams up with businesses as part of their service projects.

Duncan Williams Asset Management was on site taking part in campus clean-up and beautification.

That is why our anonymous donor wanted to give Clean Memphis $1,000 because when you teach all generations to care about our city and our earth, you can make a sustainable difference.

Clean Memphis also teams up with restaurants to help them become more sustainable — through their Project Green Fork program.

Visit Clean Memphis, to learn more.

If you know of a group making a difference in our community, click here to nominate them.