Amidst a global climate crisis, building service workers are clearing up controversy surrounding Blake’s recycling habits as staff and students advocate for a greener school environment.
Despite the myth circulating the school that building service workers do not recycle, Building Service Manager Bill Parsons says that is not the case. “We recycle [paper, bottles, cardboard, glass, and plastic] every day. We get evaluated from outside sources that say we do recycle [and] we have data that supports that.”
Every day, Blake’s recycling is weighed to ensure the school is on track to recycle the requisite amount. Additionally, School Energy and Recycling Team (SERT) facilitators visit schools six times a year to monitor their recycling habits. Montgomery County Executive Regulation 1-15 requires schools and businesses to recycle at a certain percent. If they don’t meet that percent, they’ll be fined. According to Mr. Parsons, Blake has never been fined for missing its recycling quota.
Mr. Parsons says the building services team only throws away typically recyclable materials when said materials become contaminated. “When you have juice or other things in [recyclable materials], it becomes trash and you can’t recycle that.”
One way Blake can reduce recycling contamination is through composting, which is the practice of mixing decaying organic substances (like banana peels or pizza crusts) to fertilize soil. Sophomore Ella Jacobs, member of the Environmental Club, expresses the club’s interest in composting. “We would have to get approval from [our sponsor] Ms. Sadeghi,” Jacobs says. “[But] we do have a greenhouse that [we] cleaned up this year, so we could possibly start a compost bin in there.”
Throughout the year, Environmental Club has been advocating for better recycling habits. While the average school recycles 2.76 pounds of recyclable materials per person per year, Blake only recycles 1.53 pounds per person per year.
Jacobs wishes Blake students knew about the recycling resources available to them. For example, the SERT website has hyperlinks to games students can play that help them learn which materials go in which bins. “We don’t really think about the kind of eco-footprints that we leave,” Jacobs adds. “We just need to think about where our trash goes after we throw it out.”