By Reese Meister and Katie Vo
Terah French, AP environmental science teacher, and the Ecology Club, led by Co-Presidents Junior Giauy Ngo and Senior Jessie Pham, worked together to revitalize the school’s recycling system and create a more sustainable community at Fountain Valley High School.
Although no system was in place at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, recycling is not a new concept for the campus. There used to be two separate programs. Usually the Ecology Club and the APES teacher work together to oversee the recycling systems in the classrooms, while the school is responsible for the larger bins in the school. However, too many students threw the trash in the school’s garbage cans and the maintenance team was unable to regulate and sort it, resulting in the end of the program.
After almost a year and a half away from campus, the Ecology Club and French saw the opportunity to implement a new system.
“I knew that in the past [APES teacher] played a role in recycling … I spoke to [French] to get the club working again, and then we changed the system; Instead of just a couple of students going through school and picking it up, there will be a couple of students to pick it up and a couple of students to deliver it to us, ”said Ngo.
Former APES teacher Lisa Battig saw both similarities and improvements to the previous system.
“I think the emergence of a good drop-off center is a huge plus. [Before]”We picked up a lot and I think it will be really nice and very useful to give teachers the opportunity to plan their drop-off times,” Battig said.
Battig also mentioned in the past that she oversaw the system as a former APES teacher, but now French is helping to run it with a few new ideas. This year, students earn volunteer hours that can be used to earn their badges after graduation.
“The most important change … it’s student-centered, student-led, student-oriented for the school. It’s not an individual project, it’s a leadership project … an opportunity to also take a program and tailor it to the needs of the students and staff, ”said French.
As a participant in the new system, Battig helped the French with logistics planning in September. Teachers received their recycling boxes along with instructions throughout the week of October 18, and the first day of collection was on Friday October 22. The collections take place every Friday primarily so that nothing in the classroom attracts rodents or insects over the weekend.
APES students collect recycled materials from some classrooms and bring them back to French’s room. Teachers could also choose to have one of their own students hand it in during their transition or break time.
Regardless of how the materials arrive, the Ecology Club members determine what can be recycled and sort it into two categories: bottles, cans and glass recyclables or paper. The Ecology Club then plans to send the first category of recycled materials to the Orange Coast College Recycling Center, while most of the paper is recycled in a recycle dumpster on campus to avoid contamination.
Secure Materials have a cash valuethat can be recycled for money and should be separated from other materials.
Within the first week, the renewal of the program with currently 51 participating teachers has already picked up speed.
“[The level of teacher participation] is good for now because we are restarting [the system] from scratch … this is our first week so it will be nice to find out [fewer] and then, once we’ve shut down and tweaked the system, we can expand and get more teachers, ”said Ngo.
The French expressed similar views on the importance of expansion and education.
“I want to see first if the program meets the needs of the school, then I want it to grow and continue to provide an opportunity for students to learn more about sustainability systems and see how they can be put into practice,” said French. “I think what is that? [new program] what can teach us is to be adaptable, to listen to other people and that change is necessary.
In terms of promoting sustainability, this system will bring many advantages, as it can create a cycle of continuous use before it is thrown away in the usual cycle of “production, use, landfilling,” as Ngo put it.
“The things that end up in the normal garbage can [and] the volume of normal garbage should be reduced. I think so too [helps students] understand what can be recycled, e.g. “That awakens consciousness.”
Battig recognizes the importance of recycling, but also expressed the need to continue promoting environmental protection in the community.
“The ideal would be no garbage, no recycling … nothing more to process [our waste production]…We [should] Keep thinking [recycling] to a place where our use of single-use items is reduced enough that we can [get] everything back to a healthy place in the environment, ”said Battig.
Ngo also has other sustainability plans in the community, hoping to implement a composting system for organic waste in the Ecology Club’s garden and eventually across the school. He is also aiming to expand the recycling system to the rest of the FVHS campus, not just in the classrooms.
“[Students] should [recycle,] convince their teacher to participate in the recycling program [and] Make sure they follow the recycling instructions, ”said Ngo.