On March 1st, Kate Trimlett's 3rd period Green Academy met with Jamilah Bradshaw from EarthTeam to begin learning about waste generation and disposal in preparation for an audit of the school's waste. In the session, students shared their ideas in describing environment, ways waste is disposed of, the types of things we waste, and names for waste.
The students engaged in discussion around mountain top coal removal and oil extraction and made parallels between landfills and prisons, inspired by a Mumia Abu-Jamal quote: 'America needs another prison like it needs a hole in the head. Prisons are landfills for the living dead.' One student remarked: Prisons are where we send people that we no longer want, just like landfills are where we send things we no longer want.
That same day, Kate Trimlett's 4th period Green Academy students also discussed waste issues with Bradshaw. The students spoke up when asked to describe their sentiments regarding an environmental justice cartoon that states, 'the rich get richer, while the poor get their byproducts.' One student discussed how the poor have to live by factories and even work in factories without getting to reap the benefits of their work.
Berkeley High has a long standing commitment to reducing waste- including a cafeteria food scrap diversion program that has been in place for a number of years. To check the school's progress and fidelity in properly sorting food scraps, students audited cafeteria food scrap bags and trash bags. On March 9th, the 3rd Period Green Academy class sorted through 4 bags of trash.
The 4th period Green Academy class sorted through 4 bins of trash: 2 for cafeteria trash, 2 for cafeteria compost--sorted separately. Though there was a considerable amount of food scraps in the trash bins that could have been diverted, the students found that 92% of the compost bin was food scraps- indicating that students are doing a good job correctly sorting waste to avoid contamination of food scraps destined for composting facilities. Environmental stewardship is everbody's responsibility and students at Berkeley High are doing their part to contribute to a cleaner, greener planet.