Park City High School’s Conservation Council is comprised of a group of passionate students leading the way for a greener school. They ended the 2019 school year by establishing recycling bins in the lunch room, and increasing recycling participation among teachers.
The Council has a few students who volunteer with their club advisor, Ms. McKenna, at the end of the day to pick up the recycling so that it doesn’t add more work to the custodial staff. The Council uses flyers with pictures to show students what goes into the recycling stream. They also divvy out a tip-of-the-week so that students can stay up to date on important conservation facts and statistics. The tip is printed out and displayed on lunchroom tables. So far, they’ve covered things like Meatless Mondays and cutting down on fossil fuels by carpooling, walking, or riding the bus to school. Over the summer, they plan on continuing the tip-of-the-week on Instagram. Overall, the club has taken on a lot of responsibility to make the program a success.
I attended several club meetings over the past few months to help students at PCHS develop their recycling program. I visited the club last week to see how the program was progressing. Teachers have steadily been requesting bins for their classrooms, and for each trash bin throughout the cafeteria, there is now a recycling bin paired with it. At the end of the day, there is only a little bit of material in each cafeteria recycling bin, so students consolidate the recyclables into one bin.
After the meeting, I toured the cafeteria with PCHS Junior Megan Ellis to see how they prevent contaminating materials like food and plastic bags from getting into their recycling. “Candy wrappers and chip bags!” Ellis exclaimed as she pulled them from the recycling bin and threw them into the trash. I asked if she’s seen any changes from before they started their educational efforts. “A lot of kids are listening. I’ve noticed a change in the peers I eat lunch with. Some kids mock it, but then they go and do it right anyway! I think it’s getting better.”
Next year, the PCHS Earth Club (the new name for the Conservation Council for the fall of 2019) has big plans for improving recycling infrastructure. They’re working to install two big sorting stations on either end of the cafeteria. They also expect to have a more engaged volunteer base of students to help with their efforts. Ultimately, the club is working to leave a legacy for their school, and help the district become more environmentally conscious.