Finding ‘green’ innovations at local high schools
December 27, 2011
Composting lunch helps environment
Every day, a teenager has to answer many important questions: What should I wear? What homework did I finish last night? Can I get away with sleeping through English?
But perhaps the most important question is: Should I compost my lunch? Every day, the students at Issaquah High School must decide whether his or her organic food scraps should rot in a landfill or in a natural environment where they will help sustain the plant life.
Now, if asked, most would say that, of course, they would prefer to help the environment. But it can be so hard to separate your pizza crust from your Gatorade bottles, and sometimes the yellow compost bin is all the way on the other side of the room, and… ugh.
• Composting at Issaquah High was introduced last year, and in all honesty, it isn’t that difficult. Unfortunately, it has to combat teenagers’ natural apathy, and all too often, it fails.
• While many do a good job separating their compost from their trash and recycling, several students will just drop everything in the trash bin, sending it all to the landfill. However, composting’s future looks bright, as many middle schools are introducing composting programs of their own.
As a result, kids are coming into high school already brainwashed into being good citizens. And that’s the best thing that could happen. Once it takes more mental effort not to compost, it will stay a part of school lunch forever.
Club ideas save money
The Issaquah School District is changing for the better, thanks to the efforts of Liberty High School’s girls’ science club, the Physettes, and their environmentally friendly ideals.
Led by President Macaire Ament, the Physettes have attempted to initiate a series of green changes at Liberty, including a project to cut down the amount of light used in certain areas of the school.
“In some cases, lights are on full power all day, and at some point, people ought to be mostly out of these areas and therefore those areas require a reduced amount of light,” Ament said.
If the school were to accept the plan, Physettes hope that the money saved would go toward getting recycled paper. However, the change would have to be adopted districtwide for the proposal to be effective, which complicates the process.
“Given both the economic times and the general state of change in the school, recycled paper is an issue that may unfortunately be put off for a while, despite it’s many long-term benefits both to the district’s public image and to the Earth,” Ament said.
Despite setbacks, the Physettes have continued to pursue greener alternatives for the schools, including meeting “with a district official early in the year to learn about some of the green developments at other schools, (light timers, low-flush toilets, smart sprinklers) that were scheduled to come to Liberty,” Ament said. “We are looking forward to those developments and hope to see more green elements in the future.”
A paper full ‘paperless’ week
In an attempt to reduce the school’s environmental impact, Skyline High School’s Spartans tried to survive one week without paper.
The idea was introduced to promote environmentally friendly methods of submitting school work. Teachers were supposed to ask students to submit homework assignments virtually in order to limit the use of paper. All available printers and copy machines were shut down for one full academic week.
However, most classrooms did not go paperless. Instead, there was simply a shift in the source of the paper being used. As a result, paperless week received many complaints from both the student body and staff members.
There was a significant increase in students using their own notebook paper due to the usage of class copies. Many teachers forced students to print their assignments at home, which posed a problem to students who do not have access to a printer at home. Overall, very few teachers actually started using a virtual method of homework submission.
In addition to the failure in the academic area, hundreds of paper snowflakes hung in the commons area and hallways of the school. Despite the holiday charm of the snowflakes, their presence during paperless week contradicted the whole point.
In conclusion, Skyline’s efforts to become more environmentally friendly were truly a step in the right direction, but have not yet generated the best results.
Schools are going green
Sometimes I get annoyed when I hear about groups, schools and people coming up with new, creative, constantly evolving ways to “go green.” It’s often so difficult to think of unique things to try that I feel like I can’t contribute to the community.
However, during the past couple of weeks I’ve been paying attention to the environmental practices at school and I’ve realized something. Contributing to the community doesn’t have to mean doing something different. Sometimes it can just mean keeping things up.
At Eastside Catholic High School, we recycle. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Anyone can recycle. But not everyone does and not necessarily in an organized fashion.
At three places of the cafeteria, outside the gym, in every hallway and in every classroom, there are separate disposal bins for garbage and recyclables. No matter where someone is, it’s just as easy to walk to a recycle bin as a trash can.
Also, everything that needs to be disposed of in staff workrooms is taken care of meticulously. All paper and other materials would’ve been recycled, naturally, but there is a system for recycling all of the printer cartridges and even machine parts. The light fixtures and some other construction materials present throughout the campus are also recyclable!
Recycling everything and making recycle bins easily accessible to everyone makes the recycling program achieve the most it possibly can, even if it’s not necessarily new.