School Recycling Awareness

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Every lunch students get up at the last minute after the bell rings and bombard each recycling bin. However, when it comes to actually putting every item in the correct bin, the students at the Ipswich High tend to feel too “rushed” or too “lazy” to place it in the correct recycling bin, causing a huge mess for the custodians to clean up after. Many professionals have come out of their way to look at the Ipswich High School recycling methods, but none seem to create a solution for this problem. What are we doing wrong? According to a few of the members of the sustainability class at Ipswich High, they’ve been working with this issue for three years now. They’ve been trying to figure out different methods to be more reliable and environmentally sustainable.

Many schools focus on creating “team plans” on how to implement and maintain the recycling program. The team typically consists of cafeteria staff, custodians, teachers, students, and parent volunteers. A representative in the school from the district office should also ensure that all regulations are followed. The school committee representative could also advise students on how plastic packaging can be switched with more sustainable options. This representative can also apply for grants to assist with school recycling programs. What can parents do? When packaging lunches focus on using reusable lunch bags or boxes. Provide reusable containers and bottles, utensils, and cloth napkins. Do not pack single-use plastics, disposable silverware, and plastic bags. Students can take action, too; we could have a student from every lunch monitor the bins as community service hours. This helps students become better educated and more aware of where to put each item and recycling in general. A cafeteria staff member can focus on using and finding reusable containers for the food in the cafeteria. Finally, schools can take action by having a waste audit to identify ways to increase recycling. Waste audits not only identify wasteful practices but also convert into soft dollar losses from the financial perspective.

Ipswich High has discovered that the only way for students to put their school lunches in the correct spot is if we have someone monitoring the station. We should also have a station where we can clean and drain our products before recycling. This is important because, in China, they’ve recently cut down on taking contaminated recycling.  Most of the recycling in the United States is contaminated and whether it will be allowed in the future is questionable at this point. Many companies only focus on making money from the recycling items, so when we forget to wash them, they transfer the items back in the trash, making our green choices useless. A former student in the sustainability class, Jacob Eliopoulos, explains that “Instead of kids going to the end of lunch to throw out their trash they should periodically throw it out during the period.” Believe it or not, recycling isn’t the only important thing to focus on,” a science teacher at Ipswich High school, Mrs. Larfrance, reveals.  “Composting is better than recycling because when you compost you are completing [the] full circle (of the recycling rotation) and the substances are going back to dirt to grow things again that’s the most efficient thing to do.”

So don’t be that person to just blow off your items after lunch because you want to get to class on time. If we do our part, so will everyone in the world; we all need to be in this together to protect our environment the right way. Yeah, maybe living in this world for another 100 years might not be realistic for us, but if we want to make an impact in this world, taking care of food waste will be a necessity. The more we do to help, the longer the earth will be sustainable for the next thousands of years.







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