The Charter Editorial
In 2006, Americans generated 251 million tons of trash, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. ACA adds to this pollution, but together as a school, we can be part of the solution.
A few of our students and teachers have stopped paying attention to how their actions impact all of us. Garbage is ending up in the recycling bin, paper is being thrown away, and lights are left on in empty classrooms. ACA students, parents, and staff should pay more attention to what they are doing and how it will impact our world.
Ellie Phillips, a senior here at ACA agrees. In an interview, Phillips said, “I think the school should do a better job; there’s always room for improvement.”
“We would never expect a kid to do well in school if they shove all their papers into the bottom of their backpack with no organization. Nor would we call someone’s home comfortable if they had piles of dishes with rotting food by the sink. If we do not take care of our environment, we will not have a well-functioning society or a beautiful planet that can sustain biodiversity.” Phillips said, after being asked what she believes about being environmentally aware.
ACA used to be a more environmentally aware school. In fact, we were even a certified green school. However, that certification expired in 2015 with the end of the Green Team.
A Green Team is a team of students who get together to inform their peers and guide their school in the direction of becoming more environmentally aware while learning leadership skills. Some of the ways they accomplish this is by setting up recycling and composting stations, holding demonstrations, putting reminders next to light switches to remind people to turn off the lights they aren’t using, among other things. ACA used to have a such a group for several years, although, when the leader, April Eichelburger, moved out of state the Green Team ended.
There are so many ways you can help us get back on track. What you do doesn’t have to be as large as making a new Green Team. No, that’s not what I’m asking you to do. All I ask is that you open your eyes and realize how even the smallest actions influence the entire world around you. Here is a list of seven simple ways you can reduce ACA’s impact on the environment:
- Turn off the lights! Whether you are a student or a teacher, when you leave the classroom make sure the lights are turned off. This will not only help reduce our impact, but also help reduce ACA’s electricity bills.
According to the Newberg Public Schools website, in the 2008-09 school year they paid a total of $832,065 in electricity bills over 11 schools. Then, in 2014-15, after they had switched to more energy efficient ways, the school district’s energy bill was $765,089. Their switch cut their costs by ten percent.
- Pay attention to your waste: ACA has several recycling stations set up around the school. Before you throw your apple core into the first bin you see, stop and look! There are recycling bins for paper, glass, and soda bottles and cans, a compost bin for all your food scraps leftover from lunch, and a garbage can for all of your non-recyclable or non-compostables.
During the 2014-2015 school year, which was the last year Mrs. Eichelburger was at ACA, our school paid $3,650 on waste. Last year, 2015-16, we spent $4,939 on waste bills. That’s a 35 percent increase. Between those two school years, ACA gained 25 students. That would somewhat increase the amount of waste produced, but in order to make that much of a difference, each student would have to contribute over one percent of ACA’s waste. Which is a ridiculous amount of trash.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said that 78% of waste thrown away by schools could either be recycled or composted. That means that out all of the waste you and everyone else at our school throws away, less than one fourth should actually be put into the garbage can. That’s a lot of unnecessary waste going into garbage dumps.
- Walk, bike, or ride the bus: Whenever you can, try to walk or bike places, this will lower the carbon dioxide (CO2) you produce and help you stay healthy. Taking the bus also reduces CO2 emissions and is a good way to travel place to place when walking and biking aren’t options.
The Union of Concerned Scientists says, “In 2013, transportation contributed more than half of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, and almost a quarter of the hydrocarbons emitted into our air.”
- Switch to LED light bulbs: They cost more upfront, but will save you hundreds of dollars. LED bulbs last much longer than your everyday bulb. They are also much brighter and use less energy than regular light bulbs.
If everyone in the US replaced a burned out bulb with an LED bulb, it would prevent 13 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually.
- Eat Healthy: Remember how your parents told you to eat your greens when you were younger? Well, not only is it healthy for you, eating fruits and veggies is also healthy for the environment.
More resources like land and water go into producing that meat patty for your burger than a veggie salad or fruit smoothie. The amount of water it takes to produce one kilo (2.2 pounds) of beef is 13,000 to 100,000 liters. To produce the same amount of wheat, it takes 1,000 to 2,000 liters. Livestock farming also produces more greenhouse gasses than farming plants. Reducing the amount of meat you eat is a great way to keep you, and the planet healthy.
- Eat Locally: Locally grown produce is the best you can eat. It creates much less carbon dioxide during transport from a local farm to your dinner table than it does to transport food from a factory farm to the grocery store, and then to your house. Go to your local farmers’ market and buy food from there. This is a fun way to spend time with friends, family, or a relaxing afternoon by yourself. Buying locally grown produce also supports the farmers in your community.
- Talk to your friends and family: Tell your friends and family about ways they can help make a difference. You can make a huge impact on people by doing these simple things and encouraging them to try as well.
As you can see, there are many small and easy ways that you can make a huge difference in the world we live in. We only have one earth, and that’s all we will ever get. Let’s do our best to take care of this planet for us, and for future generations.
If you would like to learn more, here are some great resources you can visit:
Recycling and Garbage: http://huntsmancalgary.com/garbage-recycling/
The Green Schools Initiative: http://www.greenschools.net/
“The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See” video about climate change; real or fake?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zORv8wwiadQ
“13 Misconceptions about Global Warming” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWXoRSIxyIU
Danelle Till, personal interview, January, 2017
Ellie Phillips, personal interview, January 10th, 2017
Live Science Staff. “10 Ways You Can Improve Earth’s Health.” LiveScience. Purch, 20 Apr. 2006. Web. Dec. 2016.
“Bond investment in energy efficiencies paying off.” Newberg Oregon School District. N.p., n.d. Web. Jan. 2017.
“Composting Basics.” Fairview Garden Center. N.p., 20 July 2016. Web. Dec. 2016.
“Garbage & Recycling.” The Huntsman Condos in Calgary. N.p., 15 Mar. 2016. Web. Dec. 2016.
“Green Schools Initiative” Green Schools Initiative : Index. N.p., n.d. Web. Dec. 2016.
“School waste study.” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. N.p., 22 Aug. 2016. Web. Jan. 2017.
“SUPPORT OGS TODAY!” Oregon Green Schools RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. Dec. 2016.
YouTube. “The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See”, 08 June 2007. Web. Dec. 2016.
YouTube. “13 Misconceptions About Global Warming”, 22 Sept. 2014. Web. Dec. 2016.
“Vehicles, Air Pollution, and Human Health.” Union of Concerned Scientists. N.p., n.d. Web. Jan. 2017.