StopWaste at School


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Mission San Jose

Mission San Jose High School in Fremont is one of the top academic schools in the state and teachers recognize the need to prepare students as the leaders of the future. Beyond a rich academic experience, the school is working to provide students with opportunities to apply academic knowledge to identifying and solving problems, The school hopes to build on its existing recycling and e-waste programs to develop green programming on campus that will help students become environmental leaders in their homes and communities.

Environmental Sculptures

Environmental ScupltureEnvironmental ScupltureStudents at Mission San Jose High School created Environmental Sculptures as part of a unit lesson in Edie Christensen’s Art 1 class. The assignment challenges students to use found, clinic reclaimed, recycled and repurposed items to create a sculpture carrying an environmental message.

The assignment from Ms. Christensen:

“You will work in groups of three students to design an environmentally themed sculpture. It will be made from recycled materials. You may use papier-mâché construction, templates cut with craft knives or scissors, hot glued and finished with paint, fabric or other recycled materials. Found objects can be used as well as other construction with approval. This is conceptual art. When you write your group artists’ statement, please identify symbols and the meaning behind your sculpture. Symbols may include colors, subject matter, textures as well as objects that are repurposed. Have fun, work as a team, focus, and give yourself time to clean up each day.”

Environmental Sculpture Rubric:

  1. Environmental themed sculpture that uses recycled materials. 25 points.
  2. Well Crafted: no loose parts falling off. Well-balanced. 25 points.
  3. Well painted and completely finished 25 points.
  4. Shows thought and effort 25 points.
  5. Shows creative use  of materials 25 points.
  6. Well written statement that describes sculptural idea and symbols as well as materials used. This statement is correctly spelled, typed, trimmed and mounted on black paper. The statement includes title of sculpture, full names of all group members, class period and Art 1. 25 points.

The assignment encourages both artistic and environmental learning. One group noted:

“The huge amounts of incorrect waste disposal along with oils spills have caused serious environmental issues that nature can no longer cope with. The model we have created depicts the story of an innocent sea turtle who is unable to return to his ocean home due to the filth and trash that was carelessly left behind. Pieces of trash such as plastic thrown into sewers or purposely left behind on beaches slowly make their way into the hearts of all oceans while putting the lives of many marine animals into harm’s way. It is important that we always keep in mind the significance of maintaining the cleanliness of our environment and the safety of our wildlife. So the next time you see a piece of trash, pick it up, because we can save the oceans and all the animals in it by throwing away one piece of trash at a time.”

"Out of Hand""Out of Hand"Another group created the sculpture entitled, “Out of Hand.” Their artists’ statement illuminates the groups’ artistic and environmental thinking:

"For our project we used recycled aluminum foil as molds for a pair of hands and birds which were later reinforced with scarp papier-mâché. We rolled the remaining paper into rolls to resemble cigarettes. We used recycled cardboard to construct the falling buildings. After everything was painted over in acrylics to make them appear stained and damaged, we used hot glue to piece everything together. Our vision was to create the outreached hands of a smoker, surrounded by the chaos and disaster caused by cigarette smoking. The skeletal hand formed by the cigarettes show that our smoke can and will inadvertently lower air quality and choke animals.

While smoking may not seem like a huge environmental cancer, humans contribute huge amounts of carbon dioxide without realizing that while they are harming themselves, their secondhand smoke also affects the wildlife whose habitats humans also share. According to reports, pollution form smoking is at least 10 times greater than diesel car exhaust; additionally, environmental tobacco smoke produces particulate matter which, if inhaled in large and continuous amounts, can be life-threatening. (Cigarette smoking is also the world’s most preventable cause of premature death among adults.) Cigarettes also take around 25 years to fully decompose, so the rate of consumption is arguably faster than the rate that humans can dispose of them. Air pollution from smoking has a strong positive correlation with diseases such as lung cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. Therefore, smoking can cause just as much harm to animals as it does to humans. If we don’t control smoke pollution by limiting cigarette usage, this problem could soon prove to go out of hand."

Green Week Trashion Show at Mission

Mission San Jose High School "celebrated green week from March 17-21 with a series of activities including scavenger hunts and walk to school days. The week concluded with a ‘Trashy Fashion Show’ where clubs and organizations participated in a school wide fashion show. They had student representatives who modeled recycled items. The winner of the Trashy Fashion Show received $100 dollars toward their club. 2nd and 3rd place winners received $50 and $25 for their organization respectively." - MSJTV

Mission's Multicultural Week Goes Green

Waste Stations at Mission's Multicultural WeekWaste Stations at Mission's Multicultural WeekMulticultural Week is one of Mission San Jose High School's largest events, and until this year, one of the most wasteful. The week-long celebration of the school's diverse cultural heritage includes daily lunch-time food sales by student clubs who use the event to raise funds while also bringing unique cuisines to campus.

This year, the student government's Green Commissioner worked with Multicultural Week committee officers to implement a range of sustainability efforts to reduce waste and improve recycling. Efforts include: a polystyrene (Styrofoam) ban, waste diversion stations with recycling and compost options, and separate waste plans for vendors and participants at the event.

Multicultural Week OrganizersMulticultural Week OrganizersAccording to Multicultural Week committee members Wayland, Dennis and Eamon, the key to outreach and compliance with the new measures was drafting an updated Multicultural Week Contract and Guidelines. The contract must be signed by each participating club to gain access to the event and the opportunity to participate in food sales for fundraising. In the past, the contract detailed food safety requirements, space allocations, and rules for handling money. This year, the contact includes language mandating practices to promote a more sustainable event.

Each club is required to use a dedicated waste handling system for any discards they generate. Typically, clubs will need to dispose of empty aluminum food service trays, plastic wrap, large tin cans (nachos), and gallon jugs (juice, milk, etc). The contract specifies that, "Organizations may not use the trashcans on campus. Trash and recycling bags will be provided for every two organizations," this ensures that clubs don't overwhelm the waste stations for the event's participants and also allows organizers to monitor the diversion of recyclables.

Illicit foam trays Illicit foam trays

The contract also calls for the elimination of certain wastes entirely; specifying that the: "Distribution of Styrofoam materials and plastic bags is strictly prohibited." This helps to ensure that all plates and cups are compostable or recyclable allowing for a cleaner waste stream at the diversion stations.

Confiscated foam traysConfiscated foam traysAdditionally, clubs agree to keep their areas clear of litter and clean up after each day's events.

The contract is not without teeth. Clubs are subject to a $100 fine for each violation, the confiscation of illicit materials, and the possibility of being banned from future Multicultural week events.

One club caught distributing food on Styrofoam plates at this year's event tried to dodge responsibility, claiming that they didn't know about the new rules. Waylan, Dennis, and Eamon were not swayed by the club's lack of planning. Citing a clause in the contract which states: "As the president, head, or chief leader representing my organization, I agree to all the policies listed above. I understand the consequences associated with the actions or inactions in the event that any person associated with my organization fails to follow these guidelines. I will also make sure that those associated with my organization understand the terms of this contract," they promptly confiscated the Styrofoam plates, effectively ending the club's food sales for the day and leaving them with unsold inventory.

In addition to the elements required in the contract, student government worked to support positive behaviors by event participants. They conducted an outreach and awareness campaign asking participants to bring their own durable/reusable utensils and plates from home. Student government provided each vendor with cookies to distribute to anyone who brought their own utensils. Although a substantial number of students brought their own utensils on the first day, participation seemed to drop as organizers ran out of cookies.

Teacher Jeff Evans praised the efforts of the students, "I am glad to see all the improvements Leadership has undertaken this year. This is the first year Leadership has had a designated "Green Team," and for such a new group to have such a say in how our school's larger event is carried out shows the respect it has gained over the year. I hope to continue working with them next year to make Mission a model school for waste reduction."

Congratulations to the Mission San Jose student organizers for their efforts to organize a more environmentally sustainable event!

Leadership in Recycling


Mr. Breazeale shows a map of the campus recycling routesMr. Breazeale shows a map of the campus recycling routesFor more than a decade, students in Ben Breazeale's L1 Leadership class at Mission San Jose High School have made the rounds to service the campus' recycling bins. Over time, the efforts have paid off- the school has won multiple waste-reduction and recycling awards- but more importantly, they have created a system that runs like clockwork and diverts tons of material from the landfill each year.

According to Breazeale, "Leadership is defined by action and service. This is not a class where we just sit around and talk about leadership- we take practical action."

Rolling toters are stored in a closet between usesRolling toters are stored in a closet between uses

To organize the actions of the class, Breazeale has created a group of committees dedicated to providing a range of services on campus. "About 75% of the students are assigned to the recycling committee because it's the biggest job- I also think it is important that we are environmentally sound."

Working in teams of two or three, each small group on the recycling committee is assigned to service one of seven areas of the campus. Additional students are assigned to "trash can recycling" – using grabbers, they poke through the courtyard trash cans to capture recyclable items after lunch; or "poster recycling" – keeping the hallways and walls on campus clear from expired or misplaced student activity posters.

Other committee jobs include restocking the student store and breaking down cardboard boxes for recycling; campus beautification (weeding, watering and planting gardens); and service-learning support (helping to deliver service-learning confirmation messages and file student service hour forms).


Teams of students are responsible for different areas of campusTeams of students are responsible for different areas of campus

The entire class of 32 students is sent out each Tuesday and Thursday to complete their committee work. Before heading out, students report to class to have their attendance recorded and to hear any updates or announcements from Breazeale. On a recent Tuesday, he shared that teachers in the M-Wing were reporting overflowing recycling bins and that the district's waste hauler will accept clean cardboard lunch trays for recycling.

After checking in, students grab badges identifying their role and head out to storage closets to gather their tools. Students on the recycling teams pick up rolling toters and picker/grabber tools from a large closet in one of the cafeterias on campus.

Students quietly gather recycling at each classroomStudents quietly gather recycling at each classroomEach team then heads out to their assigned area of campus to gather recyclables from each room. Working in teams, students quietly and politely open each classroom door, grab the recycling bin near the door and empty it into the toter.

Freshman class secretary Yvonne Chen explains, "It's important that we are quiet and don't let the doors slam shut- there is always a class taking a test and we're never sure which one it will be, so we have to be quiet at each room."

After each room is serviced, recycling teams roll their toters to the recycling dumpsters behind the school, empty them and return the toters to storage.

Full toters are emptied into recycling dumpstersFull toters are emptied into recycling dumpsters

Mission San Jose does not separate bottles and cans from paper in their recycling system.  They place all mixed recyclables in the single-stream dumpsters, similar to how students recycle at home.

According to 11th grader Zeki Wasar, "Overall, the system works pretty good. Our biggest problem is the occasional full coffee cup spilled in a recycling bin, or people putting plastic bags in the recycling- but mostly we see a lot of paper. We pretty much fill up two dumpsters with recycling each time we do it."

Recycling bins are placed directly next to teacher mail boxes to quickly capture junk mailRecycling bins are placed directly next to teacher mail boxes to quickly capture junk mailOther key features of Mission's program include recycling bins located directly next to the copy machine and others located next to the teacher mail boxes. "These are always full," noted 9th grader Raquel Crites.

Assistant Principal (and former SLWRP site coordinator) Diana Brumbaugh has high praise for the student leaders and their efforts, "The recycling program at Mission San Jose High School is truly a seamless operation. The infrastructure is solidly in place, so the students know exactly how to reduce the amount of landfill waste from our campus. Mr. Breazeale and his L1 students are to be commended on their leadership and dedication."

Mission San Jose at Earth Day

The 2012 Fremont Earth Day event featured activity booths designed and hosted by students from American, Kennedy and Mission High.

Carton Bird FeedersCarton Bird FeedersStudents from Mission San Jose High led a workshop to convert used milk and juice cartons into bird feeders and also provided art work showcasing environmental themes from the schools Green Festival held in March.

Students from American hosted two actvities to re-think and re-use paper. Students led paper-recycling workshops helping community members pulp used paper in a blender to create a slurry that was then pressed and rolled into new paper. Students also worked with community members to re-purpose old envelopes into new book marks.

Kennedy High's Green Ventures academy hosted a booth showcasing the schools efforts in Culinary Arts and Sustainable Agriculture. Students prepared sun tea and healthy snacks. They also led an activity to fold used newspapers into origami plant pots that community members could then fill with soil and seeds to help start gardens at home.

In addition to the student led booths, dozens of non-profit organizations, businesses and government agencies provided materials, advice, and presentations about Earth-friendly actions, programs, and events benefiting the Fremont community.