BY RIPPLES —
As a planet, we are currently suffering from many environmental crises, which are almost entirely byproducts of human emissions. Issues like global warming, species extinction, oil spills or the many oceanic garbage patches are all caused by a severe excess of human waste. In Shorewood, this issue of human waste has been addressed head-on at Atwater School.
When it comes to recycling, SHS needs to reduce waste and reuse ideas from Atwater’s new waste reduction program in ways that are applicable to the different setting we find ourselves in.
In many aspects, SHS is a much different environment than Atwater School when it comes to lunch. While students still have the traditional elementary school style hot and cold lunches, they can also eat out at local businesses. The hot lunch process is also very different. Instead of staying in the lunchroom and eating on reusable trays, students often get their lunch and leave to roam campus. Because of this, the lunches are served on disposable trays with disposable silverware, which is reflective of the open campus style of the high school.
We suggest that the pro-recycling programming be put in place at the high school, yet modified to fit the different types of lunch at SHS. For lunches served in the cafeteria, perhaps a return to reusable plastic trays and metal silverware could be feasible with the a la carte stations in the pool and administration lobbies serving as drop off stations for trays and silverware after students have finished eating on them. This would allow the reusability of eating utensils to be implemented, without putting pressure on the students to return to the cafeteria before heading to their next class.
For students who bring their own lunches, encouraging tupperware or waste-free days similar to the elementary school would have a positive effect on reducing waste.
The idea of trying to fit all the food waste of SHS into one garbage can at lunch, which was done at Atwater, is not a feasible food waste reduction goal for SHS. A preferable option is to encourage recycling and composting with designated receptacles that are as common as garbage cans outdoors. The addition of composting receptacles would involve the creation of a compost heap designated for and maintained by SHS. We have several clubs focus on sciences, volunteering or the environment, who would be able to take some of the responsibility for establishing this.
Atwater’s program is effective because they place stress not only on the program, but also on educating the students about why these programs are important for the environment. Currently, we see the educator role for the most part taken up by Eco Club, formed just this year. Placing signs on paper towel dispensers in the girls bathrooms that remind students of the impact of using paper towel when they dry their hands, they have made strides in educating the student population.
We hope that along with the change to disposable trays and silverware and the introduction of composting, to see more school-wide education efforts in raising awareness about the importance of recycling and reducing waste. This could take the form in announcements or assemblies by administrators, clubs or students. After all, we cannot expect large-scale change in the effect on human emissions on our planet if we do not hold ourselves accountable for our personal actions.