What Recycling Means to Students

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Senanga Perera
D. Manning
English 1301 – PL4
29 November 2012
What Recycling Means to Students
Growing up in a city that takes pride in having a clean and safe environment, I often wondered what an ordinary teenager could do to make an already great place to live in even better. As soon as I saw “Join Plano Senior High School Environmental Club” flyers I realized the opportunities awaiting me. In the first meeting of the year, the club presidents made sure to inform the recruiting club members that this club required extensive work; no longer could students join the club and not contribute just for the sake of bolstering extracurricular activities for college applications. The presidents also provided the new club members with a general outline detailing possible projects for the year, including a plan to enhance recycling in the school. In light of an opportunity to help out my community, I decided to play a part in improving the recycling program at Plano Senior High School. Inadequate teaching about recycling affects many public schools. Teachers spend a meager amount of time explaining the different facets of recycling to students, thus giving children the impression that recycling is as simple as placing waste in a blue bin, when in reality these students may not sufficiently learn how and what to recycle. In AP Environmental Science, the curriculum spends little to no time testing over recycling, despite the fact that recycling plays a major role in ecological awareness. Ironically, Environmental Science left me with an immense amount of papers in my binder by the end of the year, and in a class with no recycling bin, I ventured to the other side of the building just to recycle. Many students in my class did not throw away their recyclable materials in the right container due to the amount of effort and time that it would take. Considering the amount of materials that can be recycled, the number of un-recycled materials around the world astounds me; in fact, almost “seventy percent of waste found in trash bins can be recycled in some way” (Environmental Facts 1). Laziness and lack of knowledge about recycling play a part in this statistic; however, the mere presence of a recycling bin can encourage students to discard their recyclable and non-recyclable materials in their respective containers, but only if the student knows the significance of the bin. With just a blank piece of paper, the Environmental Club started blueprinting basic ideas for improving recycling at Plano Senior High. A count of both the trash cans and recycling bins around the school provided us with staggering numbers. The trash cans outnumbered the recycling bins by almost three times. This, of course, did not surprise anyone, because a simple walk down any hallway or classroom at Plano Senior High provides a person with an idea of how many trash cans and how many recycling bins line the school, yet we did not realize that the hallways contained about a mere fifty bins. For a school with almost three thousand kids, having that many recycling bins is unacceptable.

Education about waste management stands as an imperative aspect of recycling for kids at a young age. Older generations of people who did not learn values of recycling in their childhood usually do not have much of an understanding or propensity to recycle. Schools can also teach students how recycling can help their communities. Environmental Science AP at Plano Senior High gives students an outlook on the community surrounding the PSHS campus. A field trip to the creek next to the campus shows students the repercussions of pollution. Students take samples of water and test them for levels of carbon dioxide and organic matter, while also witnessing all the trash in the stream, most of which is paper and plastic items. The tests generally show high carbon dioxide levels and low amounts of organic matter, explaining why the creek lacks any wildlife whatsoever. No...
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