While Concord High School makes an effort to recycle through a single stream Dumpster system, keeping two of five units behind the school strictly for that purpose, too often recyclables end up mixed in with trash.
Members of the CHS EnviroCorps club recently found 550 plastic bottles mixed in with trash in the span of just one week. If that happened every week out of the school year, that would mean more than 20,000 plastic bottles ended up not being recycled.
Dan Gontarz, head of Concord High’s janitorial staff, said part of the sorting problem relates to the fact that there are only 14 people on the janitorial staff to clean the entire school. Monitoring the trash habits of 1700 people, including students and staff, is not something they can take on.
Of lined bins earmarked for recycling, Gontarz said, “Once food goes into them it’s not a recycling bag anymore. Now it’s a Dumpster.”
EnviroCorps head adviser Catherine Kilday is worried that there isn’t more certainty that recycling ends up in one of the two recycling Dumpsters. “It’s my understanding that it’s not super enforced either.”
Gontarz said workers do what they can given time and budget constraints. “What we try to do in Concord High, because of being short staffed, is make everything very easy. So if we can maintain it quickly, it doesn’t cost a lot of money to maintain. It’s simply if you have a lawn or you have a parking lot, what’s easier to maintain?”
Students should absolutely try to put bottles and cans (and not trash) in the clearly marked recycling bins. However, Gontarz said, they need to be fully committed. “Putting a bottle in a recycling bin is one thing, but knowing why you’re doing it is completely different.”
Sophomore Jasmine Leeman is concerned that not everybody is on board with recycling. “What can we do about it? Why isn’t this a big deal to everyone? Recycling is one of the biggest things we can do to help our planet. We have to figure this out.”
For more information about EnviroCorps, contact Kilday at [email protected] .