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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Las Lomas High School, Walnut Creek, California, USA

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Las Lomas High School, Walnut Creek, California, USA
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Registered: August 2018
City/Town/Province: Walnut Creek
Posts: 1
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"Are you trashy? You won't be if you compost!" read the posters I was exuberantly plastering around school as I prepared for my club's next big step in implementing a composting system. Here I was trying to lead an entire high school toward sustainability, when just a year earlier I was the timid new girl trying to make it through each day unnoticed. Having moved seven times you'd think I'd be accustomed to new places, but my self-confidence had taken a toll over the years.
It wasn't until I signed up for a reforestation trip to Ecuador that I truly broke out of my shell and found my calling. In Ecuador, I learned about the impact of deforestation, pollution, and waste mismanagement on lower-income communities. I came to understand that it is our duty as the current generation to combat environmentally-detrimental waste systems so that future generations can live sustainably. Our team of 10 students planted 500 trees over the course of 2 days. Observing communities with little resources laboring to improve their environment drove me to bring the work I did there back to California. The perseverance and passion of the locals taught me that everyone is capable of making a difference no matter what odds are against them.
This newfound insight led me to immediately sign up for an environmental leadership class through San Francisco State University. As my leadership abilities developed, I put my new skills to the test and formed an environmental club named the Green Team. This group was going to make the environmental impact I was so inspired to make.
We agreed that building a sustainable garden was the place to begin. I started off by reaching out to the foods teacher Ms. McTaggart because we both were passionate about sustainable gardening. Materials and funding were needed so she and I worked countless hours meeting with the district and community members to fund the garden and get donations.
The next step was recruitment. I hosted our school's first ever "Earth Week" where we organized environmental activities, from "Meatless Mondays" to "Waste-Free Wednesdays." Not only was recruitment extremely successful, we also earned a $2500 grant from the district for the most spirited Earth week.
Our garden was thriving and our club was growing significantly. However, when I walked past our school's main trash bin, it was overflowing while the recycling bin was nearly empty. This was both an environmental and financial issue.
Yet again, Ms. McTaggart, our ragtag team of tree-huggers and I teamed up enthusiastically and created a plan for the implementation of a compost system. The idea garnered great interest, and the journey began with a few green bins and flyers posted on the walls.
My project was successful in improving waste diversion. We estimate that about 20% of waste is now going to compost, which results in what we calculate to be about 10,000 pounds of waste diverted to compost per year. The way I calculated this was by conducting an audit of multiple bins on campus. We compared the volumes of waste in each type of bin and used that to calculate the ratio.
Since we still have a ways to go with increasing our diversion rate, we plan to continue educating the underclassmen on the importance of composting. We also plan to expand the amount of compost bins on campus; we hope to have mini compost bins in classrooms by next year.
The Green Team club fostered my growth as the ambitious leader that I am today and brought together many passionate students looking to make a real environmental change in our community. I learned that combining corporate community partnerships with youth leadership led to major change in my school's cultural and aesthetic landscape.
Date: August 28, 2018 Views: 6103 File size: 19.4kb, 174.7kb : 817 x 575
Hours Volunteered: 320
Volunteers: 8
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 & 14-18
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 3
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 4,535 kg
Native Trees Planted: 500
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