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Igniting Environmental Action in Gloucester

Although there is a recycling program in our schools and city, a lot of materials, including reams of discarded paper, heaps of disposable water bottles, and many iced coffee containers, do not get recycled. In addition, none of our schools or government buildings have a composting program; all food waste ends up in the trash. According to our research, composting and increased recycling will save the city thousands of dollars, keep recycling and compost out of the incinerator, and reduce our city’s carbon footprint.

The goals of our awesome project are to reduce the amount of waste at GHS by expanding recycling efforts and launching a composting initiative, and to create a recycling model that can be replicated in other schools and city buildings. Our plan is based on our study of successful programs at area schools. We will achieve our goals through these steps: We have administrative approval to place student decorated recycling bins (March) and compost bins (May) next to trash cans in the cafeteria with interpretive signage illustrating where waste should be deposited. Once bins are in place environmental club students will be visible in the cafeteria to inform other students about where to put different types of waste during lunch time. Students will work with the custodial staff to make sure the compost is ready for pick up by a local compost vendor, Black Earth Haulers; students have already begun work with school administrators to ensure systems are in place to manage composting. Students will work with community members, including Backyard Growers, to create a promotional video that explains and showcases the recycling and composting initiatives. The video will be part of a spring presentation at the high school, which will also include guest speakers and activities. We will share our efforts with the community and other schools through presentations, videos, text, and photography in the online school newspaper, The Gillnetter, and through social media.

Funded by Gloucester, MA (March 2015)