43 – Number of full bins of recyclable materials collected
2,000 – Number of gallons in 43 bins
4 – Number of weeks in which the recycling push was underway
9 – Number of Episcopal seniors in Emily Beckwith’s Environmental Science class volunteering to lead recycling efforts
1 – Teacher who challenged her students to establish a recycling program in Upper School
Students in Emily Beckwith’s Environmental Science class are doing their part for the environment. While classroom lessons focus on the importance of a healthy ecosystem, outside of the classroom students are taking action to protect those systems. Nine students from the class volunteered to create recycling bins for every classroom in the Academic Commons and Perkins Hall. While the students were initially focusing on these two buildings with one weekly pick up, the project quickly expanded.
Recently, the students organized a four-week, campus-wide recycling effort as part of the City-Parish Department of Environmental Services school recycling challenge. Students collected recyclable materials from every building and every department on Tuesday and Friday afternoons. In just those short four weeks, the Episcopal community collected 43 bins or 2,000 gallons of recyclable materials.
“My whole goal in environmental science is to get them thinking about the world outside and their footprint. For example, is their footprint large and can they shrink it?” says Beckwith. After only one semester, the project has gained traction with more and more items placed in the bins each week. For Episcopal senior Lauren Reed the recycling experience has made a lasting impression.
Reed, a self-professed animal lover, says the importance of the project truly hit home when Mrs. Beckwith had the class watch a documentary on water and the bottling process. “I realized the bottles impact wildlife and oceans,” says Reed. Before volunteering for the recycling project, Reed says she had a basic awareness of the recycling process, but the entire experience has helped her understand why recycling is important. Now she hopes the project inspires her classmates to do their part as well.
Beckwith hopes the recycling efforts will continue to grow throughout the year. She says the project is a great opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience with a classroom topic. As an added bonus, the student organizers are earning community service hours for their participation.
Protecting the environment and caring for the natural world are common themes in an Episcopal education. Students learn about everything from water conservation to landforms and erosion. The school’s new Quest for Peace Program highlights the importance of the environment in relation to human existence on planet earth. The new recycling effort is a meaningful way for students to have a positive impact on the topics they study in class.