Denali Trimble, Dikshant Pradhan, and Kendall Butler
Sustainability at ABRHS
To promote sustainability at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, we students work to improve management of the school’s waste and energy usage.
To meet the first end, we altered the disposal in the cafeteria. Instead of simple trash barrels, we implemented a system composed of three barrels: one for recyclables, one for organics, and a third for remaining trash. We began the project after a group of us had “Trash Sorting Party” and discovered that, of the 40 bags of trash generated at the end of the average school day, very little was actual trash. Now, the amount of trash is greatly reduced and the rest is disposed of more properly. Throughout the process we have monitored change with regular audits. We are most proud of the fact that we, students, operate the stations. We work hard to maintain this aspect of our system. We advertise with posters and emails throughout the school. Everyday we sit there and help students dispose of their trash efficiently.
Of course, while the majority of the student body has been willing to alter their routine, we have run into a few people who have made a concentrated effort not to conform by making it a point to throw things into the wrong bins. However, we have managed to convert many of such people with sheer persistence. We were proud to see the sticklers give in and sort their waste after a few months.
To meet the second goal, we encourage faculty members to unplug whatever appliances they can at the end of the day. This reduces phantom load. Every month, we go around the school evaluating classrooms and leave notes to help them “power down” more effectively. Our efforts have saved the school a significant amount on its energy bill.
We are extremely pleased that, throughout this process, administration has been supportive and impressed with our actions. They display our accomplishments throughout the school. Whenever we have new ideas or suggestions they are there to listen. Our school’s custodians and kitchen have also been extremely accommodating. Their duties have needed to change, but overall they have less work as everything is centralized. They even wear t-shirts which say “Going Green.”
After we felt that our projects had become successful, we looked towards other projects. For example, we are working with the kitchen to introduce alternative utensils that could be recyclable or compostable. This would greatly reduce trash further. We also looked towards expanding to the junior high school next door. We contacted the principal and after meeting with him over the summer, helped implement a two barrel system that separates trash and recyclables.
Currently, we are doing what we call the Power Down Picnic Project, which is a bit of friendly competition between the different departments of our school in order to foster greater sustainability awareness. Every month we “grade” the faculty on how well they remember to reduce phantom load and handle waste. We were thrilled when the department leaders let us pitch the idea to them and there was excitement all around when they readily jumped on board. So far, this has been a very easy and fun way for people to get on board with sustainability.
We hope that the excitement over sustainability will continue on for many years to come.