When you walk into almost any classroom in LFHS, you probably notice blue bins sitting by the door, or by a desk, next to the trash cans. Scattered across the school are posters and signs telling you to recycle, and promote the fact that recycling helps save our environment and make the most out of the materials we use–especially in schools. As preserving the environment has become increasingly important to society, schools have been some of the greatest supporters and participants in recycling and “green” practices. Of course, recycling is one of the foremost habits in the 21st century, where preservation and conservation are a necessity in order to ensure the ability to continue to use the resources we have for generations to come. Not only does recycling reduce landfills, but it also offsets the cost of waste. This means that recycling is beneficial to institutions as well as the environment. Approximately 80% of materials that are consumed on a daily basis are recyclable, so if those goods are recycled rather than thrown away, the raw materials that went into those products can be repurposed for continued use. It is incredibly important to reuse the raw materials because reusage can reduce mining and deforestation costs. The raw materials on our earth are limited, but things can be recycled indefinitely. Paper is a perfect example; deforestation is incredibly detrimental to the environment, but paper that is recycled can be reused as long as it is continuously placed in those seemingly innocuous blue bins.
You may have heard a rumor recently that Lake Forest High School does not recycle. That is not entirely true. I talked at length with Mrs. Davenport, an AP Environmental Science teacher, as well as Ms. Carol White, who is the director of the building and grounds. According to both: Lake Forest High School does have a recycling program in place, and more than that, recycles an average of 1,248 yards of material per year.
The rumor stems from a misunderstanding of the full situation, as most rumors do. The night crew that comes through on a daily basis to help maintain our school and keep it clean is made up of only a few members. These hard working men and women do not have unlimited time to keep our school tidy for the next coming school day. When it comes time to throw out the trash and recycle the materials placed in the recycling receptacle, they must deal with the facts of recycling. If trash such as food, or food wrappers, are found in the recycling bin then the contents of that bin must be either sorted out or dealt with as trash. This is where the misunderstanding comes into play. Some students claim to have seen recycling bins emptied into the same containers as the trash. This may be true at times, but it is only a partial truth in that the contents of that specific blue bin most likely contained non-recyclable goods.
It is not the responsibility of the night crew or anyone other than those recycling to ensure that each item that is being disposed of is done so correctly. It is unfair to ask others to sort through our trash for us, and so we must take it upon ourselves to help protect our environment and make the jobs of those that work to keep LFHS clean easier. The large green bins that stand in the hallways are for recycling only. When these are used for trash by students who are unaware of their purpose, the contents can no longer be recycled.
If 80% of the items that we consume on a daily basis are recyclable, what does this actually include? According to Waste Management, metals, paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, batteries, bulbs, and even electronics can be recycled. Some of these materials, such as batteries, bulbs, and electronics must be recycled carefully, as they need to be processed in facilities equipped to deal with them properly, but they are still recyclable. These are not often recycled, but it is important to dispose of them properly to protect our environment and save money.
There are many goods that can be recycled despite not seeming to be. Aluminum cans are widely recycled because most people know that they can be disposed of this way, but some would be surprised to find out they can recycle clean aluminum foil, and even steel cans as well. A large part of recycling effectively is knowing what can and cannot be recycled. It is our responsibility as citizens and students to be aware of what we can do to help the environment. Recycling is worth every bit of effort as its benefits are astronomical and have the capacity to last for generations to come. It is hard to imagine that recycling can have an impact on a small scale, but every little effort counts for the whole world. Everyone benefits from even one smart, individual recycling practice. It is time for us to take recycling seriously and start doing our part on a larger scale, one blue bin at a time.