During late October, the student-led New Vista High School club called Earth Task Force (ETF) ran a competition focused on creating student awareness about the school waste stream. Each of the school advisories (home rooms) participated in a race to sort out a bucket of various waste found around the school. This included Starbucks cups, juice boxes, and cafeteria boats. Advisories came to the gym, two at a time, and raced each other to the bins as they sorted between compost, recycling, and trash. While this may seem simple, all of the advisories missed at least one thing and were surprised at their results. Sometimes trying to approach high school students about the environment can be tricky, but the students enjoyed racing their fellow classmates. The goal was to encourage students to learn about their waste stream in a fun, high stakes competition with their peers.
ETF has been focused on changing the waste stream at New Vista for many years.
They have run Recycle Relay for several years and have helped the students improve their knowledge. This is particularly important in order to keep the Green Star School status awarded by Eco-Cycle. The students are excited to compete for a trophy and learn about their waste at the same time. Although some mistakes are made again and again (such as placing juice boxes in the trash), overall performance has improved throughout the years. With each year comes new students and old, changing the dynamic of the school and the footprint. Continuing several of the same events every year helps each generation of students help do their part to change their own ecological footprint.
Many of the students were excited through the competition aspect of this event, but they were also very involved in the content. Albeit noisy, the Recycle Relay had its desired outcome; reminding the students of their waste stream and teaching them how to change it. The prize, a trophy made of spray-painted old cartons and bottles, helped provide incentive for the race. Everyone who participated ended up enjoying it because of the competition and the chance to prove themselves against their peers. It was a wonderful event and will hopefully be completed again in the future!
Written by Taya Bruell for Earth Task Force
About Earth Task Force:
The Earth Task Force (ETF) is a Cottonwood Institute-supported program at New Vista High School in Boulder, CO designed to give students an opportunity to take the lead to implement sustainability initiatives at their school.