What do you do when you see an environmental problem? If you're part of the Environmental Club at Walnut Grove Secondary School in Langley, B.C., you take action and get results!
Every day, members of the Environmental Club were noticing that their school was generating far too much waste and not recycling nearly enough.
"There were a lot of recyclables going to the landfill," says Nick Despotakis, science teacher and head of the Environmental Club. "We couldn't believe the recycling trucks would just pass us by."
The club decided something needed to be done. Students wrote to both the school district and the local government, pleading for a better recycling program.
"For nearly two years we discussed better waste management...and we had to go through a lot of red tape," club member Alysa G. recalls. "As students, it can be difficult to get people take you seriously."
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Thanks to determination and persistence, their efforts have finally paid off.
The Township of Langley, in partnership with the Langley School District, has developed an enhanced recycling pilot program that diverts nearly 75 per cent of the waste currently going to landfill. Thanks to the Environmental Club's letters, Walnut Grove Secondary was recently chosen as one of two schools to participate in the program. If even 50 per cent of the school's waste is diverted with the new program, approximately 65,000 pounds of waste will be kept out of the landfill this year.
"I feel so proud that we managed to get this program into our school." club member Bryanna W. says. "As one of the larger schools in Langley, we need to be a role model."
The new program includes food scraps collection and container and paper recycling. Sorting options are available at every disposal point to capture as many recyclables as possible.
The Environmental Club continues to help fellow students and staff learn about the new program by providing educational announcements and tips on the school's Facebook page. They also stand by the bins at lunch hour to help people sort correctly. And their waste-reduction plans don't stop there; plastic bag recycling and a bring-your-own coffee mug campaign are already in the works. The club hopes that in time, recycling will be second nature to everyone.
"I hope other businesses and communities are inspired by what we have accomplished," says club member Sky L.
Alysa agrees. "Hopefully projects like this can become so successful and widespread in the community that they don't have to be 'projects' anymore, but simply another facet of daily life."