The Student News Site of Bellevue East High School

The Tom Tom

The Student News Site of Bellevue East High School

The Tom Tom

The Student News Site of Bellevue East High School

The Tom Tom

New recycling program comes to Bellevue East this year

Reuse, reduce, recycle Sophomore Alyssa Osborn, member of Green Initiative, collects recycling from the deans’ office. “I was emptying out the recycling bins around the school for Green Initiative. We do that about once a week so that they don’t get too full,” Osborn said. Photo by Victoria Bogatz

Recycling has returned to Bellevue East this school year after environmental club Green Initiative volunteered to lead the program. 

Recycling bins have been placed in the cafeteria, senior commons, and some classrooms. The items that can now be recycled include cardboard, paper, and aluminum cans, as well as plastic items such as bottles and cold lunch containers.

“It’s really easy to do, but it only works when we do it correctly,” Green Initiative sponsor Rachel Carraher said. “Food is not recyclable, and when we put food items in the recycling bins, that contaminates things like the paper and cardboard that could be recycled. Also, not putting wrappers and trash and things like that, just to ensure that what we’re sending to the recycling facilities can be recycled.”

Recycled items at Bellevue East are sent to a nearby recycling center, where they are sorted, cleaned, and made into new materials. Recycling conserves natural resources, reduces waste, and saves energy, among other benefits, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It can also reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses, which cause climate change. 

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“I think recycling is a really good idea. It’s kind of hard to get started, but once you actually go through it and start, once you get into the cycle, I think it’s just really good for our environment,” Green Initiative member Aislynn Holcomb said. 

Previously, Bellevue Public Schools had a contract with Premier Waste Solutions. However, Premier stopped accepting recyclables in 2019. Bellevue East has not had a widespread recycling program since.

“We had recycling in our school the first several years that I worked here. And then when China stopped accepting recycling from other countries like the U.S., the U.S. had a really big issue with all of a sudden having all these recycled materials and having nowhere to send them,” Carraher said.

According to the EPA, the United States has a weak recycling infrastructure. The U.S. has depended on exporting recycled materials in the past. When changing international policies led to a limited export market, the U.S. domestic recycling system struggled to adapt.

“It left the school and all we could do was cardboard only. We found out last year that they actually were able to take recycling again, and so the Green Initiative wanted to make sure that was being implemented in our school,” Carraher said. 

The club set up recycling bins in the lunchroom, senior commons, and classrooms of teachers that requested recycling. Once a week, Green Initiative members work in small groups to collect the recycling from classrooms. The club has tried to spread the word about recycling through posters, a slideshow, and the afternoon announcements.

“We put a bunch of posters up for it in the lunchroom… about what we should recycle and what we shouldn’t recycle, because the biggest issue is usually at lunch with all the trash that gets thrown away,” Holcomb said.

Students may be aware of the program, but getting into the habit of recycling can be challenging.

 “How I heard about it was with Mr. Anderson going around the lunchroom with his mic saying to recycle things,” sophomore Daniela Evans said. 

However, she said she hasn’t recycled anything yet.  Some items are more commonly recycled than others; 68% of paper is recycled, but only 8.7% of plastic makes its way to the recycling bin, the EPA reported. Recycling may take some getting used to, but it is beneficial for the environment.

“I think it’s a good way to try to help the environment. As long as everyone doesn’t have the ‘I’m one person, I can’t do anything’ mentality. it’s like, if I can help a little bit, I will do so,” Evans said.

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About the Contributor
Victoria Bogatz, Entertainment Editor and Social Media Manager
Hi! My name is Victoria, and I’m the entertainment editor and social media manager for the Bellevue East Tom Tom. I love writing, running, playing piano, activism and food. Fun fact: My favorite color is purple.

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