There have been rumors since my freshman year that BHS does not actually recycle and that what we are putting into the recycling bins actually goes into the garbage. And as a student at this school where there are thousands of kids everyday accumulating waste and trash, it is important to be conscious of our choices as a school in 2018. The environment is threatened and there are little ways which can help reduce our carbon footprint as a large school.
- Paper vs Online: First, it should be made clear that we are doing some positive things currently. Over the past few years many classes have converted to online materials for most of their coursework. By implementing tools like Google Classroom, we have reduced how much paper we are using. That being said, there can be more improvements in how much paper we are printing on the daily that will inevitably end up in the trash. More classes should push to turning in assignments online and persuading kids to take notes and use other online tools to complete their work.
- Recycle: While it is still debated whether we are recycling or not and it is hard to know what is strictly a false rumor, BHS should absolutely be recycling as much as possible. We have an enormous student body and staff and the amount of waste we create is incredible. Recycling should be a priority in reducing our waste of plastic and paper. Besides just having recycling bins available, the lunch rooms packaging materials could be switched to more recycling friendly materials.
- Cleaning Products: Products used in classrooms and by custodians to clean areas of the school can be adjusted to eco-friendly products. Decreasing the toxic chemicals in our schools can be more beneficial to the environment.
- Water Bottle Initiative: While many students do use reusable water bottles already, we can limit our sale of plastic bottles in our cafeteria. Encourage students to bring their own water bottles and use water fountains to refill. Another way to promote this is to market Bedford High School water bottles in our school store. Creating nice BHS water bottles and promoting them to students could reduce the need for plastic water bottles.
- Unplug: So much power is wasted when we leave devices turned on or plugged in. Make sure to turn off the lights when you leave a room or unplug your devices when you are finished using them. Most computers at BHS are owned by students but computers throughout the school that are plugged in, typically stay plugged in all day long. For example, students that use the computers in the library could plug them in when they go to use them and unplug them when they are done. This helps to conserve the amount of energy they are using.
- Styrofoam: Go styrofoam free! Styrofoam stays on the earth for an insanely long time and the school should reduce it as much as possible. Switch to plastic, washable trays of recyclable paper ones instead of creating a massive amount of styrofoam going into landfills during the school year. With such a large amount of students buying hot lunch on these trays, we should do away with the styrofoam and opt for a more eco-friendly material.
- Meatless Mondays: The school lunches do not always contain meat but it is always available in the sub and salad lines. Meat production is very harmful towards the environment with using immense amounts of water to produce it as well as contributing largely to greenhouse gas emissions. By having just one day a week where there isn’t any meat options available to students, this could greatly reduce our contributions to harming the environment.
It is important to be knowledgeable about our carbon footprint and impact on the environment when we have such a large student body that accumulates a lot of waste. Although it may not be possible to adopt all of these tips as a school, individuals should be mindful of their choices and effects on the environment. Earth Day is on April 22nd this year and I challenge us as students and a school to adopt new ways to create a more sustainability friendly school in the time between now and then.