Students reduce waste
West Nassau High School students have trimmed more than 8,000 pounds of recyclables from campus waste containers. Other area schools are also on a mission to go green.
Since September, students have collected 4 tons of paper, plastic, aluminum cans and cardboard with the goal to collect 10,000 pounds before the school year’s end.
Teacher Natalie Syler oversees the project associated with PepsiCo’s Recycle Rally.
The free school recycling program tracks the amounts deposited.
Syler reinforces the importance of recycling with the weekly collections.
“I think because I’ve read about landfills filling up, I think there’s a disconnect between recycling and rural communities,” she said. “And the landfills are filling up and we’ll have to create more landfills and that’s going to affect their future. If they can understand how they can be community leaders in recycling, they can be leaders in their community.”
The lesson isn’t lost on freshman Janie Bass. She and her classmates collect the recyclables each Wednesday.
“It stops it from filling up landfills and saving the environment for animals,” she said. “It helped me to start getting into it.”
Classmate Kaden Gilmore likes the idea of cleaning up the environment.
“When you see trash around, you can pick it up and change the environment around,” he said. “When you think of plastic, it can be recycled and turned into something new.”
It takes about 20 minutes per week to visit dozens of classrooms, a few school offices and other common areas. Teacher Laura Foley plans to join the effort with additional volunteers.
The school project has raised Kaylea Williams’ awareness about recycling.
“It’s something to do and be accountable to,” the freshman said.
At Callahan Middle School, seventh grade students Abby Clayton, Kaitlyn Raulerson and Baylor Cruce from Amanda Thien’s class collect items four days a week.
Thien would like to apply for a grant to fund containers for classrooms.
“The goal is to have clearly labeled receptacles for each class,” she said.
Another goal is for students spread the recycling message at community events.
During a classroom visit, Carley Archer said that she recycles Dr. Pepper soda cans at home, adding that when people reduce, reuse and recycle, it helps the environment.
At WNHS, DJ Gonzalez rolled a container from a hallway to the outside receptacle. He’s noticed the benefits of recycling at home and often picks up trash along the roadway.
“Whenever my mom tells me to take out the trash, it doesn’t fill up as fast,” Gonzalez said. “If you keep recycling paper, you don’t have to cut down as many trees. And they can recycle paper out of the old paper.”
Nine Advanced Placement environmental science students from Hilliard Middle-Senior High School collect recyclables as part of a school project, but the waste amount isn’t tracked, according to Principal Tammy Johnson.
Students have participated in the activities for three years.
Although the amounts aren’t tracked, Callahan Elementary School employees and staff recycle paper, cardboard and plastic items while the school’s parent teacher organization regularly recycles crayons and dry erase markers.
Also, Junior Beta Club members at Callahan Intermediate School collect paper and plastic items from classrooms on a weekly basis.
At Hilliard Elementary School, faculty and staff regularly recycle paper to reduce waste, according to Asst. Principal Tammy Smith.