Evan Sukman, Head of Green School
It’s mid-afternoon on an average school day, you just went for a quick run to the LD during break in your English class. You grabbed a bag of chips and a chocolate milk because the bad chicken fingers you had for lunch left a gap in your stomach. You get back upstairs, class goes on as you munch through your Sweet Chili Heat Doritos and casually sip your chocolate milk, while receiving the odd look from your English teacher leading you to assume that you should try not to make as much noise with the bag. Class goes on, the bell finally rings, and on your way out he reminds you to clean up your garbage. You grab the bag of chips and the chocolate milk carton and march them over to the garbage can. But instead you don’t see a garbage can, you see what appears to be a miniature recycle bin, and a miniature paper disposal bin. Confused as to what to do, you just toss them in without thinking anything of it.
Some of you may not have noticed the lack of garbage cans in many classrooms around the school, but us at the Green School sure have. What many students don’t know is that there is a reason for this. There aren’t any garbage cans in classroom because the Centre for Environment and Sustainability at the school assumes that we will not be generating enough waste to need them. They think that nobody is going to bring food into the classroom, and that there is no need for garbage cans in these classrooms because of this. According to Mr. Thuringer, the Director of Facilities at the school, it is kind of an informal (and relatively unspoken) rule that food shouldn’t be in classrooms. The lack of garbage cans in some classrooms is supposed to force us to go out into the hallway and put our garbage in the garbage cans, but, of course, we don’t. Why? Because we’re too lazy, and, perhaps, we don’t know enough about the issue. Of course, bringing food into the classrooms is sometimes unavoidable for lunchtime meetings, but he brings up the point that students need to make a conscious effort to put their garbage that they bring up from the lower dining hall in the garbage cans in the hallways, and I would agree. But is this realistic? Are kids really going to carry their garbage with them from the midpoint of their class to the end, and into their next class in search of a garbage can? No, they aren’t—they’re going to toss it into whatever bin they can find. What many people don’t know is that when food waste gets put into the paper and recycling bins, it renders all of the other items in the bins un-recyclable. This is a big issue that can be dealt with very easily.
If you put food in the recycling bin or paper bin, everything else in that bin (all of the paper and recycling) is no longer recyclable because it has come in contact with a food item. So our laziness does not only affect the single food item we are tossing into the recycling bin, but it also affects all of the other recycling items that your fellow students have respectfully placed in the proper bin. In theory, this is an easy issue to correct–we inform the student body, and let them make the right decision. As an idealist, and a student who has confidence in the conscience of his classmates, I think this is a small yet simple way in which we as students can help to better our environment. So the next time you finish your bag of Doritos – or whatever food item you’ve chosen to purchase from the LD – channel your self-regulation skills (however limited they may be) and be sure to put them in the appropriate bin. While our school may be inherently blue, I think we should do everything in our power to add a little green to the mix.