Thursday, October 22, 2009
Around the Logan campus, there are occasionally whirlwinds of trash and piles of half-eaten food. These usually occur about five feet away from a trash can. Loads of recyclable material is also either left on tables or put into the trash cans. However, recycling bins are prevalent around the campus.
The trash problem at Logan is worse than some might think. Trash can even be found crammed behind books in the library, which attracts ants and other bugs. The food scraps left on tables in the courtyards attract seagulls, which become serious pests as they fly overhead during lunch and defecate on the students below them.
Most people know trash is ĎbadĒ- but not necessarily why. California school districts generate about 763817 pounds of trash per year. This trash goes into landfills if it makes it to the trash can, and if it doesnít then it usually goes into the bay or an animalís stomach. This can kill animals and wreck their natural environment. Landfills are basically a way to shove our waste into the earth. Eventually, this can pollute the ground water, the dirt, and even air.
Garbage heaps are also breeding grounds for disease. The animals attracted to garbage likely are carriers of infectious disease, and the toxic materials that people throw away pose serious health risks if allowed to accumulate.
However, there are ways to reduce garbage. Plastic water bottles can be reused, and packaging, like the cardboard trays in school lunches, can be recycled. Other forms of wasteful packaging can be reduced by the kitchen staff dividing food into portions, instead of buying pre-portioned and packaged food. For example, the Asian inspired food sold at Logan usually comes on one paper plate, in contrast to buying a burrito meal which contains the paper tray, wrapping for the burrito, chip packaging, and drink packaging. Paper can be saved by double-sided printing, and food scraps can be put into vericomposting (composting with worms) sites.
Reducing waste can be surprisingly easy. McDonaldís saves 294000 pounds of corrugating packing material per year by reducing the height of the embossing on their napkins. For major cities, one solution to deal with waste is one currently looked at by New York City. Garbage is put into high temperature incinerators, which in turn
The Sustainability Club, headed by biology teacher Michelle Galaria, who is also part of the Service Learning Waste production team, aims to not only learn about sustainable living and consumerism, but to also play an active role at Logan in waste management.
Her suggestions for reducing waste on campus include a single spot for student eating, and surprisingly, fewer trash cans. She advocates a system of trash can, recycling can, and food waste can always in the same spot and consistent for each courtyard. For example, having the three part unit in each of the four corners of every courtyard. This would be more reliable than the current ever shifting but abundant trash cans.
Change comes over time, however. The current freshmen began learning about waste reduction on their field trip this year, in which they had to pack a no-waste lunch. In future years as the system for disposing of waste is set, Galaria expects LINK crew will start teaching incoming freshmen the procedures and expectations about waste. In the mean time, the Sustainability Club is preparing to present to Logan teachers at the next house meeting about sustainability and trash. Galaria hopes for Logan Live segments on just getting the waste to a trash can between now and Thanksgiving; after Thanksgiving the focus will shift to sorting. She plans to have monitors out at lunch supervising the separation of trash and recycling, as well as a household chemical refill drive.
Galaria stated, ďmost people think that living green or organic is harder, but itís not. Itís the everyday choices we make, the simple things, that matter. Itís not about doing more, itís about doing less.Ē