As you can probably tell, winter is almost upon us. Outside, the trees are almost completely stripped of their leaves and any remaining foliage has long lost its vibrant emerald hue.
But here at Neelin, the hallways still overflow with green, and I’m not talking about our Spartan pride (though there’s plenty of that to be found as well)! This green is all about being environmentally friendly, and where better to start than in a high school that’s already famous for being green?
Neelin’s Eco Club has been around for several years, always seeking to encourage environmental consciousness and action within both the school and the community in new and exciting ways. This dedicated group of students wanting to make a difference in the world (including yours truly) meets every Wednesday morning to discuss ongoing projects and consider new opportunities to make our school a greener place.
This year, proceedings were kicked off with a variety of exciting school-wide activities to celebrate Waste Reduction Week, which called for raising awareness on the importance of environmentally conscious choices and ran from Oct. 21-24.
On Oct. 21, Neelin became involved in the Recycle My Cell Challenge as an official drop-off location for wireless devices. Until Nov. 22, those wishing to recycle their old cellphones, smartphones, wireless PDAs, pagers and/or cellphone batteries can bring them to Neelin, and the school could win $500 if it collects the most devices in that time period.
Oct. 22 was designated Litterless Lunch Day, where staff and students were challenged to bring a lunch that left behind no waste whatsoever — no wrappers, no paper bags, not even a plastic drinking straw.
On Oct. 23, , students were quizzed on their environmental knowledge and the first ones to answer correctly were each given a fabulous, environmentally friendly prize.
Finally, on Oct. 24, the focus shifted to the importance of composting, as well as how to properly compost.
The reduction of Neelin’s waste output can be achieved in many different ways. Improving our recycling program is one such way. To this end, the Eco Club applied for, and recently acquired free Recycle Everywhere bins to be strategically placed next to garbage cans in classrooms and around the school. These bins are used to collect empty beverage containers, such as aluminum pop cans, plastic water bottles and juice boxes. These former drink holders are then recycled into a variety of useful objects such as airplane parts, bicycles, clothing, new beverage containers and furniture.
Thanks to the Recycle Everywhere Program, Neelin can reduce the amount of bottles and cans taking up space in landfills rather than waste their potential to be reused by recycling them into all sorts of new things.
Right now and for the next several months, the earth is frozen and unresponsive, unable to support any new life. But come next spring, the Eco Club hopes to be able to plant about a dozen trees in Neelin’s back field.
This project was conceived in part to compensate for the unfortunate loss of several trees in this summer’s expansion of Neelin’s staff parking lot, which used to be sorely lacking in terms of adequate visitor and wheelchair accessible parking spaces. To afford the purchase of these trees and the cost of their maintenance, the Eco Club is applying for a grant of up to $400 from LSF (Learning for a Sustainable Future)’s Action Project Funding, which gives money to schools wishing to fund environmental sustainability projects that are interactive and informative. What better way to get people engaged and educated than to give them the responsibility of caring for another life — one that gives us the very air we breathe to survive, no less!
Neelin’s Eco Club has already gotten off to a great start this year, with several projects already completed and many more on their way. In this way they hope to prove that even a small number of people with big goals can make a big impact on the world, and that environmental sustainability and waste reduction can be achieved by anyone, even you!
» Rebecca Xie is a Grade 11 student at Neelin High School.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 4, 2013