Message in a Bottle: Students Work Together to Promote Recycling at Woodgrove


According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum, more than 70 percent of plastic is not recycled properly. The amount of plastic products has increased by 20 times in the last 50 years, and will double in the next 20 years. By 2050, plastic will outweigh fish in the world’s oceans.
To combat these distressing facts and predictions, both teachers and students are working to increase students’ awareness of their environmental impact by encouraging recycling here at school.
To test if the awareness of recycling increases the practice of recycling, the environmental science classes, under the guidance of Mr. Fortney, conducted an experiment. For one week they collected all of the items from recycling bins in classrooms and the cafeteria, and recorded how many recyclables there were. An email was then sent out to the faculty, informing them of the experiment and encouraging them to recycle. The following week, the classes collected and recorded all of the recyclables again, and compared the numbers between the two weeks.
Within the first week the environmental science classes collected 394 watter bottles, 12 flavored water bottles, 201 other plastic bottles, 32 aluminum cans, and 6 plastic containers from recycling bins. The second week, following the email, the classes collected 868 water bottles, 14 flavored water bottles, 703 other plastic bottles, 479 aluminum cans, and 127 plastic containers. The total recyclables collected nearly quadrupled from 645 recyclables to 2,191 recyclables. The environmental students concluded that if students are better informed about recycling, more will be recycled.
“A big component is educating the students in not only how the system works, but hopefully giving them some information that will give them a more intrinsic desire to recycle,” said Fortney.
While this was a success, some believe that there is still room for improvement when it comes to student motivation towards recycling.
“The biggest issue is for people to recognize how much waste they produce and to think about where the waste ends up,” said Mr. Greening, sponsor of the Green Team. “Most people don’t give it too much thought. We should be more mindful of how we contribute to some of the problems of our world, like global warming and pollution.”
It is difficult for custodians to recycle because recyclables are not often sorted properly, and it is the students’ responsibility, not the custodians’, to make sure that recyclables are placed in the right bins.
“Basically students just need to follow the bins that are there,” said head custodian Becky Jackson. “If you take the recycling bin for paper and look in, there are food and drinks. It’s gross. Who wants to go through that?”
The Green Team is developing recycling-related projects at Woodgrove.
“We’re currently trying to bring a recycling lesson to FaceTime to bring to light recycling studies conducted within our own school, as well as specify the proper receptacles for various types of trash,” said senior Kyle Edmonston, a member of the Green Team. “In the future, we hope to bring some sort of incentives for recycling in the school in order to raise awareness.”
With these projects, the Green Team hopes to promote an appreciation of the environment among the students.
“Recycling is an issue at our school because students incorrectly feel like the custodians don’t care, so they don’t care,” said senior Sydney Hunter, also a member of the Green Team. “We need to be good stewards of the earth. We need to care. If we just looked at every problem and thought that we don’t need to deal with it, then we would be in a really bad place. I think it’s just important to give thought to it. Go green!”