Local sixth-graders reduce, reuse, recycle 

  • Green Team members weigh lunchtime waste they sorted with the help of their advisor, David Brewster.  Contributed photo

Recorder Staff
Published: 4/27/2018 8:12:19 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Local middle school students are helping their school go green, one lunch period at a time.

A week-long “Waste Wars” event at Great Falls Middle School ended with an 89 percent reduction in lunchtime trash that would have otherwise gone to the landfill. After refining their approach to waste sorting, the middle school’s Green Team was able to reduce 65 pounds of trash headed for a landfill to a mere seven pounds of non-recyclable, non-compostable material earlier this month.

The initiative was organized as a class project by Ralph C. Mahar Regional School seniors called the “Waste Warriors.” This group of students reached out to Great Falls in February after teacher David Brewster organized a group of eight sixth-graders — the Green Team — to encourage recycling.

The team consists of Andre Widmer, Hugh Cyhowski, Raygan Pendriss, Isabel Garcia, Ricky Pareja, Ayleen Ovalle-Perez, Izzy Vachula-Curtis and Tiffany Aubrey.

The Waste Warriors’ goal was to reduce the amount of non-recyclable, non-compostable waste being thrown away in school cafeterias. After they reached out to the Green Team at Great Falls Middle School, the sixth-graders began a schoolwide information campaign about recycling and ensured that collection bins were available and that a regular collection schedule was implemented.

Each day, two Green Team members stood by the trash cans to help students recycle and compost items instead of just tossing them into the waste destined for the landfill.

“On the first day of weighing our waste, we had 65 pounds of trash generated by approximately 241 students,” Brewster said.

Students were able to reduce waste by about a third almost immediately, but took it as a challenge to do better. All of them started volunteering to be one of the two students to stand next to the trash cans and help other students reduce the amount of trash thrown into the bin.

“They formed an assembly line system where a few kids would remind students what was and wasn’t trash, while the rest of the team supervised the share table, the recycling bin and the compost and trash barrels,” Brewster said.

“I think their accomplishment is most remarkable because it’s hard for the youngest kids in a school to take leadership and offer guidance to the older kids, but the Green Team did not shy away,” he continued. “They were brave, hard-working and persistent.”

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