Environmental Outreach Club Aims To Be A Part Of Recycling Solution
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Environmental Outreach Club Aims To Be A Part Of Recycling Solution

Over a year ago, the Environmental Outreach club at Lausanne raised concerns over recycling in the city of Memphis. They wanted to figure out why so much of the recycling goes to landfills and wanted to be a part of the solution.

The students had seen numerous news articles about single stream recycling and how ineffective it was in our city. They were disappointed to learn that a large part of the recycling ends up at the city dump.

“This weighed on them and we began to discuss our recycling program at Lausanne (which is currently single stream),” environmental club sponsor and Lausanne Middle School science teacher Tom Brezina said.

For student Sophia Holland ’22, discovering the ineffectiveness of the recycling in the city was heartbreaking.

“I’ve always been interested in environmental issues, particularly litter. I've been collecting litter on just about every walk I go on for many years, and over time I started to realize that a large portion of the material I found on the streets could be recycled. I started to research the benefits of recycling and was horrified to discover how messy the system is,” Holland said. “Because of high contamination rates, it's become nearly impossible for recycling companies to sort out usable material. It’s easier for them to just trash it all.”

Since the students had been cleaning up trash every weekend at the Wolf River, they noticed an abundance of cans in the trash. Knowing that it could be sold for money, the club determined that the best way to ensure that the cans would not end up in the dump was to collect them separately (to avoid contamination) and then transport them to a reputable metal scrap company that would pay them money for the aluminum. It would also ensure the cans would be reused.

“I’ve been thoroughly researching local recycling processes for over a year now, and it's been hard work to come up with a way to make sure that materials are transparently and accurately processed,” Holland said. “I think we have the potential to make a really big difference;. Recycling just one can prevents approximately 10 kilograms of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere. From some preliminary data collection, I've determined that the upper school generates somewhere between 40 and 50 cans a day. Imagine how much energy we can save by recycling that much material properly!”

The club then repurposed some of the old recycling bins and made them aluminum bins. The bins were set up in 10 locations around campus and are differentiated from other cans with a sign on the front of the can. These cans are re monitored by Environmental Club members to prevent contamination.

Once a large volume of material has been collected, the students will drive the cans to a local recycling company, where they will get a little bit of money to pour back into their environmental efforts.

“The most important thing is that we know the material is actually being recycled,” Holland said. “We've already done a trial run of the system by dropping off over 300 cans, and it worked out great.”

“I am extremely proud of these club members,” Brezina said. “They saw something that was wrong with our community and took action. As IB Learners they are tasked to think about the environment that they live in and make lasting impacts for all community members. I truly believe that they have done that in this case.”

For Sophia Holland, getting to use things she learned as a student to create change is something she is proud of.

“As a Lausanne student, I've learned to challenge myself when it comes to problem solving,” Holland said, “It was really important to me to examine the recycling problem from the ground up so that I could come up with a solution that could make a real difference. I am confident that the Lausanne community will bring this system to its full potential and I'm glad that I got the opportunity to work out a back end that can turn the students' good intentions into certifiable action.

*For this program to be successful, it will take all community members involvement. Please recycle all aluminum cans in one of the 10 designated locations on campus. Also, please make sure that the cans are empty before they enter the can. If there is liquid in the can it could lead to contamination and the eventual inability to be able to recycle the material.

Posted by Steven Russell at 09:01