Have a green school year | Teen Ink

Have a green school year

September 7, 2008
By Anonymous

Although there is much more knowledge these days about the problems in the environment: pollution, global warming, holes in the ozone layer, and much more, we still see a great deal of waste; especially in the schools. In large centers, we are starting to see a huge improvement in the ways schools are reducing waste, and helping the environment in other ways. In smaller centers, most schools are still living in the past. On average, in the United States, 50% of the municipal solid waste stream is from the schools. There are many ways individuals can easily help to reduce this enormous statistic.

The first thing individuals can do to reduce waste, is to reduce paper waste. This starts when you buy your writing paper for school, look for paper that is at least 30% recycled. It may be a little bit more expensive, but it is a worthy investment as one ton conserves 7.2 trees, 2100 gallons of water, and 1230 kW hours of electricity and 18 pounds of air pollution (conservatree). Those are huge numbers that get bigger when there is a larger percentage of recycled material.

After you have this paper, there are many ways to be sure you get maximum use out of it. Everyone should write on both sides of the paper. By leaving one side blank, this doubles your paper usage, which will also double the waste. Also, unless you are told to, do not skip lines, this also doubles the waste. Once you are done with your paper, recycle it. Many schools have paper recycling, and if your school does not, it takes very little effort to take it hope and recycle it. By simply doing these things, we may be able to diminish the huge statistics.

Another thing schools use up is electricity. There is not much students can do stop this, but you can talk to the teachers about having the curtains open to let in natural light, so that maybe you would not need all the lights on. Also, if you notice that a teacher does not turn off the lights in their classroom, you could mention it to them. These simple little things not only help the environment, but can cut down the school’s electricity bill.

There is also a great deal of waste created in lunches. When packing your lunches for school, pack your food in reusable containers, rather than bringing foods with excess packaging. The small effort it takes to bring home containers is miniscule compared to the reduction of waste of a year’s supply of disposable packaging. When going out for lunch, avoid getting your meals “to go”. Most fast food restaurants use huge amounts of excess packaging.

Another, very important way to help the environment is to never buy bottled water. Bring water from home in a reusable water bottle. If you do not like the tap water, or it is not safe to drink, there are many filtration systems that would be an excellent investment. Brita filters are an excellent way to filter water and make it taste better. Bottled water creates plastic waste, and also some companies use up resources from third world countries, making bottled waters an environmental and also ethical problem.

Finally, students should create awareness in their schools. Start up environmental groups, put up posters of environmental tips around your school, and tell your friends how they can save the environment.

If every individual did these simple things in their school, we would see a huge decrease in the waste produced in schools. We can help the earth on its way to recovery.

The author's comments:
Pulp and Paper Factbook, AF

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