While environmental action is nothing new for SMUS, this is the first year the Middle School has had its own E-team. The Senior School E-team has been examining the school’s environmental impact, but the Middle School is taking a more hands-on approach to waste reduction.
The students have set up recycling stations across the campus, from which they sort and collect. Beyond the usual pop cans and paper, the students are working to get less well-known recyclables such as soft plastic, which includes candy wrappers and Styrofoam. “It’s a service to the school and to the environment,” says Craig Farish, who heads up the E-team.
SMUS has been recycling organic waste since November of last year, but the Middle School is spearheading the soft plastics initiative. “If we got rid of our organic waste, recyclables and soft plastic, our waste would be reduced dramatically,” says Mr. Farish. This not only reduces the environmental footprint of SMUS, it also can save the school money on waste removal.
Sustainability is one of the leadership streams at the school, and the students are developing their problem-solving skills while deciding the direction their work will take. A large part of the year will be spent examining the programme they’ve created, then finding ways to make it more efficient and to expand it. “They’re involved in the whole process,” says Mr. Farish.
“Not only are the kids learning, they’re teaching,” he says, pointing out that many staff and students have started asking about what they can do at home. The Middle School E-team has also spoken at two assemblies this year, informing fellow students about what they can recycle.
“If we’re modelling waste diversion, that will carry on into the community and create a greater change,” says Mr. Farish. Later this year, he hopes to show the E-team members the later steps in the process, such as the creation of soil from compost or new goods from recyclables.
The Recycling Station Accepts:
Hard plastic/metal – Hard plastic items with a number on the bottom, any metal, tin or non-returnable glass, which are picked up by the CRD.
Soft plastic – Plastic bags, Styrofoam, ziplock bags, milk containers, foil wrappers, pudding lids, candy bar wrappers, plastic wrap, other hard plastics with no number on the bottom. These items will be collected and sorted for recycling by Pacific Mobile Depot.
Batteries – All types (large, small, cell phone, etc.) These are collected and sent to reFUSE with the organic waste.
Organic waste – Paper towel, apple cores, food waste, pizza crusts, paper plates, napkins, etc. All of the material is taken to a composter in Cobble Hill and turned into soil/fertilizer.
Returnables – Pop cans, bottles, juice boxes, glass bottles, etc. These items will be sorted and returned to the bottle depot for the deposits, which go to fund E-team projects.