Earth Day is around the corner on April 22nd, with Green Schools applications due that week as well. Green Schools is a measure of how a school and its students are doing in terms of being environmentally friendly, and the school has gotten a 3 out of 5 for the last 3 years.
The Environmental Club is aiming for 5 stars this year to bring the school’s ranking up, and has started several new recycling initiatives, gardening projects, and clean-ups to do that. However, they need student cooperation to accomplish their goal.
“Ultimately, recycling is a team-based goal where we all need to contribute, not just a few individuals,” said Philippe Hempel, junior and Environmental Club vice president and recycling lead. “All it takes is one student to reverse the efforts of many others.”
Hempel explains that the moment a contaminated item is thrown in recycling, the whole bin can’t be recycled any more. Recently, the recycling bins have had many non-recyclable materials like styrofoam and plastic bags, and contaminated items like boba cups with boba still inside.
“Sometimes when I get boba or Starbucks and I’m coming back to school in a rush, I just throw away the cup in whatever bin I see first,” said an anonymous student.
In an effort to inform students like this, Environmental Club has created a video and put signage up next to each recycling bin showing students what can and can’t be recycled. Besides recycling, they have motivated students to each do a small environmentally friendly action.
“My family and I have a small compost bin in our house for food scraps and things like that,” said Hannah Bryant, junior. “It’s kind of like our small family thing to be sustainable.”
Several other students have used composting in their homes as a way to get rid of food scraps, and then reused it in their backyard gardens. However, for students that don’t have a way to compost, they can drop off their food waste to people who do compost with apps like Sharewaste.
“I am on the app and compost other people’s food waste when they drop it to my house,” said Ms. Amanda Poland, APES teacher and Environmental Club sponsor. “It helps me since I can use it in my garden and helps them since they limit their waste.”
Ms. Poland also used the soil she got from composting to fill up the school garden that was just built on April 1st. That garden is an Environmental Club project to preserve endangered butterfly species like Monarch and Painted Lady.
“I have gone to the Oak Point Preserve and December school clean-ups that the Environmental Club hosted,” said Anjani Tiwari. “It’s a way I can get hours and feel good about myself for doing something for the environment.”
Other students are trying to use reusable items like water bottles, grocery bags, and lithium batteries. Students can get free reusable grocery bags in Ms. Poland’s room at B110.
“Using reusable grocery bags is actually really easy and efficient once you start,” said Greta Choi, junior. “Most of these small sustainable actions are pretty easy to do, people just need to start.”