The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Recycling: Why We Do It and Why We Need to Do It

With global warming and climate crises on the rise, we hear news daily about the degradation of our environment. We’ve been taught to respect our surroundings by recycling and reducing our excessive use of resources, and that is exactly what the school is doing this year by improving its recycling system. With all of the great resources the school now possesses, students should strive to make the best possible use of the recycling system, and increase awareness of the need for eco-friendly policies and actions.
The school has long been a reputable “green” school and an advocate of recycling: it won first place in the Blue Whale individual category of a statewide recycling competition in November 2010 and was recognized by the Bay Area Environmental Conference for its dedication to environmental friendliness in 2012. Even though there are school measures to reduce waste, the school’s administration and Green Team decided to take the school’s environmental awareness one step further this year.

In previous years, the school has seen several stages of development in its recycling systems.  2010 saw the installation of the single-stream recycling system that allowed all recyclable items to be put in a single bin, a system that replaced the smaller recycling bins that the school had been using before.  Despite these improvements, students often continued to pay no attention to  the new initiatives put into place.

“You’re always going to have problems with people who don’t want to sort out their things, or who want to toss out everything into one trash can and be done with it,” Green Team Co-President junior Wendy Wu said.
To address this issue, the school has put a new recycling system into action that lets students effortlessly determine where to put their trash and maximizes the amount of recycled and composted items. Basically, edible items go in the food/compost bin and all other items in the recycling bin. If the student body uses this newly implemented system prudently, the school will produce zero waste, something that Los Altos has been striving to achieve for years.

“I’m hoping that we will actually have the system in place next week, and at that point, I think it will make a dramatic change on the environment,” Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg said.

Recyclable items and organic waste fill up over three-quarters of America’s trash cans. With all of these measures and recycling systems put in place, it is now up to the student body to take full advantage of the resources given to them.

“It’s great because we’re going to have a minimum amount of trash that isn’t going to be recycled because essentially, we’re recycling and composting everything,” Wendy said. “It’s forcing people to be more sustainable ... The changes are going to be radically extreme. Right now we have people who are throwing stuff away when it could be recyclable or compostable, but when we get rid of the trash cans, they have to do it this way.”

The introduction of the dual-stream recycling is committing students to a conservationist mindset at school, but it should also inspire them to extend an environmental consciousness at home as well.
“We certainly hope students will be more aware in their lives outside of school ... in the choices that they make and produce less waste,” Rosenberg said.  “A lot of times people don’t do things because it doesn’t even occur to them, or they think it’s harder than it actually is to make a change, so if we are able to make this change, maybe other institutions such as schools or businesses will think that it isn’t too hard to produce zero waste.”

Although there is no excuse for students to improperly dispose of waste now, the school’s biggest challenges remain keeping people from misusing the system and motivating students to actively reduce garbage in their lives. How green the school is cannot and does not depend solely on reforms that the administration introduces. The success of the school’s new recycling system is vested in the students’ willingness to make a change. The system will only go to waste if we don’t utilize it properly.

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