Berkeley High School seeks to be a leader in green programming and education. The campus was one of the first large, comprehensive high schools in the Bay Area to offer food scrap composting in its cafeteria and the school hosts a Green Academy dedicated to preparing students to understand and actively engage in creating and environmentally sustainable and socially just world. The school has implemented many innovative practices including faculty use of google docs, year end locker clean-out/reuse projects, and on-campus composting as part of the AP Environmental Science garden.
For the last two weeks Berkeley High's Zero Heroes Green Team Club has run a campus wide t-shirt collection drive to gather materials for a reusable bag making activity.
Student leaders worked with teachers to send emails to the entire Berkeley High School community encouraging their participation.
On Wednesday, December 12, the Zero Heros hosted a bag making party attended by 18 students and 3 teachers who learned how to transform used t-shirts into 42 reusable tote bags. The Zero Heros provided sewing needles and thread, instructions and a festive atmosphere for creativity.
The effort is designed to support outreach and compliance with Alameda County's Reusable Bag Ordinance set to take effect January 1, 2013.
Last spring, teacher Amanda Salzman challenged the seniors in her Ecoliteracy class to develop projects that would benefit the community and the environment. After surveying students about their interests, Salzman organized a panel of community speakers to come meet with small groups of students as advisors for a range of projects from food justice, environmental media, waste reduction and others.
Two students, Tommy Elder and exchange student Samuele Tomassome decided to take on the issue of electronic waste, specifically the types of ewaste that students generate.
To learn more about their peers consumption and disposal habits, they developed a carefully crafted survey. While they were not surprised to discover that teenagers run through a high number of cell phones, they were shocked to hear what was happening with old cell phones. "Most people just put them in a drawer, 'just in case.' Some people reported having as many as eight old cell phones, chargers and related accessories just sitting in boxes and drawers at their houses."
Elder and Tomassome learned that the components of cell phones are recyclable and contain valuable minerals. Each phone that is properly recycled reduced the demand for minerals mined across the globe.
With survey data in hand, the two students brainstormed a range of ideas. Initially, they hoped to work with cell phone vendors near the school's campus to offer student discounts for new phones when old phones were redeemed, but a variety of hurdles sidetracked that idea.
"Eventually, we decided to organize an e-waste event on campus," Elder explains. "We researched different e-waste collectors and decided to work with a local company called Green Citizen." Green Citizen emphasizes ethical and responsible e-waste collection and processing. They also help community members repair electronics to extend their useful lives.
To encourage students and teachers to bring old cell phones to campus, Tomassome and Elder organized a two-day lunch time collection drive- offering fresh made smoothies in exchange for used phones. To further emphasize the environmental theme, students used a pedal powered smoothie maker from Rock the Bike.
Serendipitously, when Tomassome and Elder went classroom to classroom on campus to announce the event, many teachers responded by asking them to also collect out of date and broken classroom electronics like computers, printers and televisions.
"I think this was a really successful event for Berkeley High," said Tomassome. "We raised awareness and collected over a ton of materials for proper recycling and disposal."
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.
Republished from EarthTeam
Zoe Price, class of 2014, is a student in Berkeley High's Green Academy. During a recent Waste Audit with EarthTeam, Zoe made quite an impression with her passion for and dedication to waste reduction. She is a founder and active participant in the Compost Club, working towards diverting compostable waste away from the landfill.
Zoe shared the following about the Compost Club, "We meet weekly to work on the wider goal of implementing compost into every class room at Berkeley High...We hope to speak with our principal, Mr. Scuderi, and the school district about making composting a part of the custodians' jobs, and raising their salary according to the added work."
Congratulations Zoe on being selected as the EarthTeam student of the month for April 2012 -- keep up the great work!
EarthTeam empowers teens to become lifelong environmental stewards through experiential education, skills development, and the building of community connections.
~Guest post by Zoe Price, a student in Berkeley High's Green Academy.
How much do you know about what you throw away? Where does it go? Could it have been saved? In current times, it has become increasingly important to reduce, sort though, and carefully manage the waste that we produce. It's important to know the full story extending beyond your curbside bins.
Bay Area Green Tours offers an entire tour to educate you about just this, and does a fantastic job. Last Thursday, I took the tour and had a wonderful time. Each stop was informative and interesting. My favorite stop was the first one, the Altamont Landfill in Livermore, CA. Before the tour, I had not thought much about landfills, and did not think that they had much special design. But they do. Landfills are carefully engineered to make maximum use of the land and air space. They are also designed to protect surrounding the wildlife and environment from contamination by the garbage.
captures the methane gas released by the landfill, and uses it to power Waste Management's trucks in Alameda County. When I learned this, I was proud to live in the Bay Area, where we can lead by example to a more sustainable world.And the Altamont landfill is special, it is far more advanced than others, and uses a system found nearly nowhere else on the planet at the present moment. It actually
Even with this hope, looking upon the active face of the landfill, you will encounter the somber realization that what we throw away is an enormous problem, and must be changed or stopped as soon as possible.
Back to the Roots." This company actually collects all of the used coffee grounds from local Peet's coffee shops, and uses them to create an entirely new and unique product. They create kits to grow mushrooms in your home. Growing your own food, sharing it with your family is definitely taking it back to the roots. Employing people locally is also taking it back to the roots. The speaker there was a bright and enthusiastic woman, and you could see in her eyes that she truly believes in what she is doing.After the landfill, there were a couple other stops, the next destination being a small, sustainable, and booming business called "
East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. It is a store that sells anything that might otherwise have been thrown away. When you walk in, it's hard not to think of new ideas for how to use everything. They have buckets of crayons, old posters, leftover fabric, and even jewelry! And here the tour ended with inspiration and the acknowledgment for the need for change. I hope you choose to come on this exciting and interesting tour! It has been my favorite tour so far, and is a fine example of what makes Bay Area Green Tours unique and special.The last stop of our tour was the