Where does your trash go? Normally, all the trash we carelessly toss into a trash can is thrown onto a garbage truck to be sent to a landfill. These landfills end up having a detrimental impact on our environment, polluting the soil and wildlife and increasing the possibility of methane gas explosions. Fortunately for us, mitigating the school’s contribution to the dump is in the Green Team’s best interest.
At the beginning of the school year, the Green Team worked to create a completely new recycling system. By relabeling all the old trash cans on campus and adding new recycle and compost bins, the club attempted to get closer to its goal of achieving a zero waste system. It has also been active in the community trying to raise awareness of the merits of being ecologically sound.
Zero waste refers to a system in which all materials are not put to waste and are either recycled or composted. However, Green Team believes that this system cannot be completely achieved due to its sheer difficulty. By setting a high standard objective for its recycling system, the club hopes to mitigate the amount of waste produced by the school.
Despite Green Team’s many attempts to encourage an ecologically sound mindset, it still has trouble in getting students to sort their trash. On average, according to AP Environmental Science’s compiled data on the school’s waste trends, 50 percent of trash thrown into a compost bin is not compostable. This is a significant contrast compared to the small inaccuracy of 10 percent for recycling bins on average. The class also observed that vertically-oriented trash cans are 29 percent more accurate relative to those with horizontal chutes. More items were misplaced when the recycling and compost bins were not placed adjacently. For these reasons, the club concluded that the inconsistency resulted from a lack of incentive.
“As a student, I don’t think there’s much motivation for me to go out of my way to sort my trash,” senior Samantha Kim said. “If I want to throw away a banana peel and an empty water bottle, it’s just easier for me to just drop them all into one compost bin.”
The Green Team has expressed their dislike of the students’ uncompliant attitude. No matter how much effort the team may put into urging the correct use of the waste system, positive results won’t be produced if the students fail to comply. Since the club has supplied students with the information needed to separate trash, it is confusing as to what will get them to put their knowledge to use.
“I always feel a little frustrated when I see something that’s obviously recyclable in the compost,” Green Team Co-president junior Wendy Wu said. “[There] is no other way to make it easier to be green.”
The Green Team has been struggling to cope with the inefficiency of the waste system. Not only does an inefficient waste system fail to cleanse the environment, it keeps the school stymied from progressing toward its zero waste goal. The club already advocates the importance of correctly using the new recycling system through the morning announcements and videos. Since these avenues don’t seem to motivate students to sort trash, the club believes that having students realize how tangible an effect reducing waste can have would increase their motivation.
“If students are aware of the impact these programs had on the environment, they might be more inclined to help,” Green Team Co-president junior Sarah Jacobs said. “It’s imperative that they take the extra three seconds to separate their trash. We are trying to acclimate them to this idea and hopefully we will see improvement as the longevity of the system increases.”
To combat this dilemma, the team intends to increase the green publicity through more announcements and videos in the daily bulletin. Additionally, Green Team is planning on educating students in a more in-depth manner during the annual Earth Week they host. Through these adjustments, the team hopes to revitalize the system.
“Regardless of our challenges, I am pleased with the success of the recycling bins and remain optimistic about compost,” Sarah said. “We can only go up from here.”