Trash, Recycle, Compost!
Recycling is something that I bet we all have seen at some point or another before our time here at SUA. It’s a lot more common, and we feel comfortable recycling our bottles, cans, and cardboard in this correct category rather than throwing it in the trash. However, composting is a form of disposing of waste that we may not have seen before and is present in our SUA cafeteria.
“When it comes to throwing away our trash during lunch, where do we put it? Why does it even matter if we put waste in the correct bin? How does this impact us?” These may be questions you have asked yourself once before, but once you understand the significance of the trash system that SUA has adapted and how it works, you will learn to be a lot more appreciative of what it does for our environment.
How did it first start?
This waste sorting program began around 5-6 years ago by a team of SUA students called the Green Team, who wanted to minimize the lunch waste that had to be thrown out at the end of each school day. They agreed to volunteer to stand by the bins two to three times a quarter in order to help their peers find the correct place for their trash to go.
How does it work?
In the center of each side of Keller there are two trash sorting stations with 3 bins. One is meant for recycling, one is meant for composting, and the other is meant for landfill. Some of the major things that can be recycled are paper, cardboard, aluminum and steel cans, and plastic bottles and jugs. In the compost bin is where our food scraps and leftovers go, and it also includes paper napkins. The last bin is landfill, which basically includes everything that cannot go into the other two pins such as wrappers, utensils, and the cafeteria food containers. It may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s really much simpler than most people think. There are signs above the bins if you are unsure where to put your trash, but if you are still confused, you are always able to ask one of the adults or APES students helping out at the station.
What’s the point of this system?
SUA’s AP Environmental Science teacher, Mr. Simcoe, is one of the moderators that helps keep this system in place and has been there since the start of it here at SUA. He says that the "goal with this system is to reduce how much waste we are putting into the landfill by allowing students to compost their organic waste (especially food waste) and encouraging recycling of things like cans and bottles in Keller. Not only does recycling and composting reduce the amount of trash in landfills, but by doing this we are combating climate change because when organic waste (like food) decomposes in landfills, it produces methane gas which is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Composting this food waste also produces valuable compost which can be used to improve soil on farms and then produce more food, thus completing the cycle.”
How to be proactive with this?
Mr. Simcoe encourages students to “think about what they pack or buy for lunch and try to minimize waste. Reusable containers and lunch bags are a great way to do this. Not only do they reduce landfill waste but they also save money in the long run since you won't have to continue to buy single use bags over and over.”
Clearly, this system is a lot more important than we will ever know. There are so many factors that are contributing to environmental issues around the whole world, one of them including landfills and its pollution. It may seem like there is nothing we as students can do to help with the issues regarding landfills, but there is- and it’s through this system. Take the extra 15 seconds to go through your waste at the end of lunch to make sure it goes in the correct bin. If you notice your friends are throwing their soda cans or leftover food in the landfill bin, be the person to tell them where it should go. Change starts with us, and doing something as simple as composting and recycling can make a difference in the community and in the world.