Student-Led Environmentalism: What our Students Are Doing

Our choices at all levels—individual, community, corporate, and government—affect nature. And they affect us.
—David Suzuki

Environmental consciousness is alive and well in our schools. Our December 7 CSD Spotlight feature discussed some of the work that Malletts Bay School students have done with recycling, and our July 11 feature showcased some of the district’s green initiatives, as well.

And now Colchester Middle School’s student council has taken on a big project in order to help its school community enhance its recycling capabilities.

With some help from Chittenden Solid Waste District and a grant from the school’s Partners in Education (PIE) group, CMS’s student council “green team” has launched an extensive, multifaceted sustainability project that includes:

  • encouraging increased school-wide recycling with additional classroom recycling bins;
  • creating visual aids in order to clarify where waste goes;
  • composting materials in a garden space outside Ms. Melloni’s Harbor House classroom;
  • preparing gardens for planting;
  • creating a grow lab for seedlings in Ms. Melloni’s classroom;
  • installing a liquid waste receptacle in the cafeteria in order to facilitate the recycling of plastic bottles; and
  • making morning announcements with recycling tips.

Student council members have been assisting diners with where to toss waste; stations have been set up for food waste, recyclables, liquids, bottle caps, and trash. While the blue bins filled up and the compost bins’ weight increased, trash decreased at CMS. Last week alone, CMS kept 107 pounds of food waste out of the landfill! The activists have also teamed up with the Cougar Mews in order to feature recycling-related public service announcements on its weekly newscast.

As mentioned above, Ms. Melloni’s humanities and science classes are planting two beds of vegetables and flowers, spreading compost to prepare the beds for planting as soon as our risk of frost significantly diminishes. The plantings were started in a grow lab in the classroom last February. CMS students are now enjoying a simple outdoor classroom beside the garden, complete with hay bale seating, the supplies for which were generously supported by the PIE grant.

Additional plans to expand upon CMS’s recycling initiatives include touring Malletts Bay School’s student-led recycling operation, introducing additional composting locations, and working collaboratively with Vermont FEED.

For more information, e-mail Julia Melloni or call (802) 264-5800.

Student environmentalism is rapidly taking hold all over the nation and all over the world. These students are all committed to creatively and effectively addressing the daunting environmental challenges that affect each and every one of us, empowering one another and all citizens to bring about positive environmental change.

We are all in this together!

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