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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Sycamore High School, Cincinnati, OH

Sycamore High School, Cincinnati, OH
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Registered: May 2008
City/Town/Province: Cincinnati
Posts: 3
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1. Our high school has a paper output rivaling a publishing company.
2. The paper recycling program had been abandoned.
3. Trash cans are ultra convenient.

…Not a good combination.

Action needed to be taken. So Sycamore High School Environmental Club had a meeting. We brought in all of the cardboard boxes we could lay our hands on, labeled them, and placed them at the door of every classroom. The program was received with much enthusiasm; we would often pick more than one box of paper per classroom. Doing the math, we have 2,000 students and about 100 classrooms at our school. That’s a lot of paper and a lot of collecting. The boxes filled up fast, and students began to realize how much paper we dispose of on a daily basis. Our students and faculty are now much more aware of their waste output simply because they see the empty paper recycling bins go from empty to full in a matter of days. My teachers have begun to print on the backs of used pieces of paper and reuse test booklets from period to period. Through our efforts, the visibility and proper disposal of our paper has made for a more consciously environmental school community.

Our eight dedicated recycling team members spent almost two hours after school each week collecting all of the paper and putting it in the large recycling bin outside. Over the course of the year, we recycled over two tons of paper.

After stumbling over an article in a magazine, I found that not only is paper waste a problem, but possibly more threatening is electronic waste. Our trashed, obsolete technology is often bound for electronic landfills in third world countries where the dangerous chemicals leech into the soil and water. This fact should not be dismissed as slight pollution; in some areas, the chemical concentration can be up to 30 grams per liter of water. The residents of these areas are also not likely to have filters for their water. Thus, the ingestion of these hazardous compounds occurs on a daily basis leading to rampant health consequences. Not to mention, children search the electronic landfills for sellable parts. The issue of electronic waste has also manifested itself as a political issue in areas such as Congo where coltan (a compound used in cell phones) has sparked a “Blood Diamond” situation. The civil war has consumed regions, ruthlessly mining for coltan and employing children as soldiers. Electronic waste has transmogrified into an issue much larger than unconscientious disposal.

We needed to implement an electronic recycling program at the school to do our part in preventing such atrocities. After a thorough background check using the Basal Action Network (BAN), we contacted a company that resells working devices and recycles the components. Over the course of the school year, we collected about 150 pounds of electronic waste to be recycled.

My peers expressed their contentment at being able to recycle their old cell phones, but were concerned about an item they outgrow more quickly than their cell phones: plastic bottles. We contacted a member of our city government about implementing a plastic recycling program but she explained that disposal would be impossible on such a large scale. So, we discussed the matter with our faculty advisor who said that he passed by a recycling center on his way home from school. Thus, we set up a plastic recycling program on a small scale. Everyday the bin fills up with plastic bottles, weighs in around 20 pounds, and is recycled on our advisor’s way home.

By setting up three different recycling programs, our school community has realized the applicability of recycling to materials other than just paper. They have also realized that recycling is a much bigger issue than just proper disposal; its ramifications are environmental, economic, and political. It’s important to minimize waste as our daily actions influence the lives of people all over the world. We of Sycamore are striving for a zero waste footprint and a positive impact on the Earth.
· Date: July 3, 2008 · Views: 8266 · File size: 23.8kb, 97.2kb · : 802 x 1500 ·
Hours Volunteered: 93
Volunteers: 15
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 15 to 18
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 972
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