Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

By Eileen Flaherty, Student Life Division Head. Photos by Isabella Desouza.

One word: recycle. People have probably told you to do it your whole life whenever possible because it helps reduce pollution which is a result of the ridiculous amount of waste we produce. In 2013 alone, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash and recycled and composted approximately 87 million tons of materials (EPA). A more recent study found that 91% of plastic is not recycled (EPA). When you look at the approximation of the materials we manage to recycle in the United States, it seems like a lot; though, when it is compared to the amount of waste we produce, the number has little significance. That 87 million tons we recycle is equivalent to a 34.3% recycling rate (EPA). News flash: that is not the greatest percentage. We could be doing much better. So, if we want to do better, how can we, and what have we done?

Some students in the LCA community want to help reduce the amount of waste we produce to better our world. The Environmental Science class has been working hard on numerous different types of projects that involve the whole community. Senior Elena Liguori tackled recycling as the major issue for her project. She had two central ideas, according to Mrs. OW, the teacher of the environmental class. Her first idea was to get more recycling bins into the classrooms, but there was an issue: compliance. Mrs. OW said that “Lexington does not do single stream recycling; mixed recycling doesn’t get separated.” Therefore, “ more bins doesn’t solve problem.” Elena did not give up, but kept pressing forward. Elena’s second idea was to work on changing the culture of students, so the students understand that they can take responsibility, and so they do not expect the school to do the work for them. Her challenge was to see which grades could recycle the most, and which ever grade won would have a pizza party. The 8th and 11th graders were paired together, 7th and 10th, and 6th and 12th. The 7th and 10th grade recycled the most, so they get to have free pizza!

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Liguori has done a great job engaging the entire school in her recycling challenge which has had remarkable results. Some students and faculty have even gone as far as to remove the recyclable bottles and cans from the trash in their rooms and move them into the recycling bins that Liguori has set up for us. Through such a simple challenge, Liguori concluded that hundreds of bottles and cans have been recycled. Liguori also raised awareness in the student body by announcing her project in assembly, giving the student body statistics, and regularly encouraging us to continue recycling. Mrs. OW said that she hopes the project will “identify students who want to continue the work after she graduates.” Our hope is that the recycling movement Liguori began will continue!

If you remember one thing from this article, remember this: RECYCLE!! It is a lot more important than you think it is, and even just one bottle in the recycling bin a day can make a huge difference!