Recycling myth debunked

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Recycling myth debunked

photo illustration

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Davin Tackabury

photo illustration

Davin Tackabury

Davin Tackabury

photo illustration

Emily Gazzaniga, Assistant Editor

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Only 8 percent of the 30 million tons of plastic discarded in the U.S. every year is recycled. Many Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) students are among the 92 percent of people who don’t recycle. But why is this the case? With blue and green recycling bins occupying every classroom, hallway, and in the cafeteria, it provides opportunity for students and faculty alike to toss their recyclable products in the correct bin.

“You can preach to students about recycling all day,” said senior Maya Costello, “but there should be more talk about the implications of not recycling.”

For the past few years, rumors have spread like wildfire that the high school’s recycling is combined with trash, creating misconceptions that have led to a gradual decline in recycling in the school community.

The idea that MVRHS doesn’t recycle, however, has recently been debunked. Principal Sara Dingledy said, “The school absolutely recycles. Massachusetts state law dictates that recycling in public schools is mandatory.”

Custodian Oliver Hughes explained that he takes the separate trash and recycling containers to their designated bins outside the school. The recycling is transported by Bruno’s Rolloff to the transfer station in Oak Bluffs, where it is then sorted. It is imperative that the plastics, paper, cardboard and other recycling products are separate from any trash, otherwise it is deemed nonrecyclable.

Mr. Hughes said, “If I can, I’ll separate any recycling mixed in with the trash on the top of the bins, but we’re instructed not to go out of our way to sort the garbage.”

After Bruno’s collects the recycling and brings it to the transfer station, it is loaded onto a trailer and sent to the E.L Harvey sorting facility in Westborough. E.L. Harvey, a single-stream waste removal company that accepts all recyclable products as long as they are presorted, receives the recycling load and sorts it into the main groups of plastic, glass, cardboard, and paper pulp. Depending on the current market for recycling, the products are either sold or repurposed for future use.

In previous years, social studies department chair Olsen Houghton and his leadership class handled the emptying of all the recyclables in the building. The student-sorted recycling would then be picked up by the ABC Disposal Service and move through the Martha’s Vineyard Refuse Center in Edgartown before being transferred to the off-Island Casella Recycling Facility, where components such as paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, and glass were sorted using blowers and magnets.

While it has now been proven that MVRHS does in fact recycle, the school community still has a way to go before recycling becomes habitual. Many students and faculty agree that creating awareness around the importance of recycling is the first step. While everyone is encouraged to recycle, many people are not aware of the importance of properly sorting their plastic and paper goods so they are able to be repurposed.
Senior Max Smith said, “I don’t think it’s fair to generalize, but I think a lot of people are ignorant when it comes to climate change and what’s happening to our planet. They don’t realize how big of a difference recycling can make, and I think people all have this idea, kind of like voting, that one vote or one plastic bottle won’t make a difference. They figure, Why even bother?”

Mr. Hughes said, “I think the reason students don’t always recycle is just ignorance, not apathy.”

Posters, locations of the bins, and informational assemblies are among some of the ideas for raising recycling awareness moving forward.

Hughes said, “There should be an assembly at the start of school every year that incorporates what recycling is and what the green Bruno’s bins are for, making sure students know what products are actually recyclable. Peanut butter containers, for example, can almost never be recycled because the condiment is so sticky.”

Kevin Crowell, a culinary instructor who mentioned his hopes to take over the cafeteria lunch program next year in a school committee meeting, believes the elimination of paper products to be incredibly important. “We would definitely like to limit paper use next year, whether it be by washing reusable dishes or limiting paper goods. That is one thing I would like to target right away.”

Junior Rose Herman said, “When you don’t see something happening right in front of you, it doesn’t seem real. We don’t see the direct effects of not recycling and we don’t see the enormous amounts of pollution in the oceans; therefore, students don’t see the importance. In reality, it is more important than ever to recycle now.”

About the Contributors
Emily Gazzaniga, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Emily Gazzaniga is a junior and an Assistant Editor-in-Chief of The High School View. She has been on the staff for two years and was previously the Photography...

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