The Viking Longboat

Trash heaps

Story: Sarah Donely, Staff Writer

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Today it is pretty common to hear discussions about the environment throughout political debates and the general public. Each year it seems the human footprint grows more detrimental to our planet and many argue that, between plastic ocean swells and annual wildfires, the wake of humanity is becoming more obvious and irreversible. Although many progressive steps are in effect to hopefully avoid some of these issues, political and social setbacks make awareness to the public difficult to confirm.
Creating a knowledge base starts small and local. Just here at the high school alone, many student are unaware of how much waste is generated annually. Recycling is simple but it is still not emphasized heavily by staff or administrators.
“Be responsible for your trash and your stuff,” senior Audrey Fiero said. “If you know something is recyclable, recycle it.”
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 75 percent of American’s waste is recyclable. But the country only recycles about 30 percent of it.
“Some kids go to throw something away that’s recyclable if the trash can is closer,” sophomore Kyle Pinkelman said. “They just need to go to the recycling bin more and notice if what they’re throwing away can be recycled or not.”
Daily there are about 12 full trash cans coming from the lunchroom that contain about 7 cubic feet of trash each.
When it comes to the rest of the school, every classroom has at least one trash can with about one cubic foot of trash.
In other places around the school (bathrooms, locker rooms, hallways, etc.) there are about 50 additional trash cans with an average of one cubic foot of trash. That means there are about 100 cubic feet of trash coming from around the school.
All together, about 180 cubic feet of trash comes from the high school every day. Weekly that’s 900 cubic feet, 3,600 monthly.
That means for one school year, 180 days, the school generates an estimated total of 32,400 cubic feet of trash. The community pool in the building contains 45,986 cubic feet of water. If the pool was emptied, 70 percent of it would be filled with only one year’s worth of trash.
Close to half of the school’s total waste comes directly from the cafeteria.
“Are the lunch trays recyclable?” junior Shawna Oesterling said. “It would be good if we could recycle our trays instead of throwing them away.”
Monthly, the cafeteria serves food on approximately 7,000 recyclable lunch trays.
Schools throughout the United States use roughly 5.76 billion foam food trays each school year. The trays take a minimum of 500 years to decompose in a landfill.
“Recycling is honestly the easiest thing to do on a wide scale. I don’t think enough people do that because if you look in some of the trash cans there are quite a lot of recyclables,” junior Jarod Jeffery said. “I think if we had more recycling, not just in the teachers classroom but throughout the school, that could also help.”

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Trash heaps