Exploring Waste at WHS
WHS and other schools throughout the nation face the challenge of limiting the non-food waste they produce.
The average student produces 0.5 pounds of waste at school each day, according to “Reducing Waste at School” at www.hamiltoncountyrecycles.org. Paper, plastic, glass and aluminum are all among recyclable materials used by students and staff members that often end up in landfills instead.
This practice poses serious environmental concerns, because according to “Facts About Consumption and Waste” on www.nwf.org, a glass bottle in a landfill takes one million years to degrade, and plastics take 100 to 400 years to degrade. Also, the United States requires 535 million trees to satisfy its annual paper needs, according to “Changing Paper Consumption” on www.greenschools.net.
The total waste WHS produces can be approximated by number of times the one-ton dumpsters are filled each week; the two waste dumpsters are emptied a total of eight times a week, according to custodial staff members April Wackerly and Vanessa Pidgeon.
Fortunately, the custodial staff also noted the recycling dumpster is emptied three times a week.
However, there is still room for improvement in waste management at WHS. While recycling bins exist in most classrooms, they are not always filled correctly. WHS recycling bins can take paper, glass, aluminum and clean plastic containers; a frequent problem occurs when unrinsed food containers are put in recycling bins, which results in the entire bag being thrown away.
There is also room for new procedures to reduce material waste at WHS, particularly paper waste.
Classrooms can create a pile of paper printed on one side that can be used for notes or passes.
Furthermore, printers could be set to print double-sided, and the school could consider switching to 35 percent post-consumer content paper, which saves 2,400 pounds of wood per ton of paper, according to “Facts About Consumption and Waste” on www.greenschools.net.
By reassessing efforts to limit waste, WHS can help decrease the world-wide problems of landfill waste and deforestation.