Go Green Club fights for recycling

Laura Laux, Reporter

9th January, 2023

The proper materials are not being recycled into the proper bins.

You throw your empty Yerba can in the recycling bin on campus, and you assume that it is going to be recycled. You are wrong.

Currently, Arcata High School does not recycle cans, plastic containers, or bottles. The waste from the recycling bins goes into the same dumpster as all the other trash on campus.

Many students on campus don’t know that we don’t recycle everything. Go Green Club members are trying to change that.

Trash and waste that doesn’t get recycled pollute our ocean and landscapes. Right now AHS is only recycling cardboard and paper with Recology Humboldt. We need to also be recycling cans and bottles.

President of Go Green Club, Carolyn Van Mantgem said, “We need to do our best to help our planet in any way we can as a school and as a campus.”

The district as a whole has halted its recycling program.

“There are multiple reasons as to why. A major part was the shutdown of buy back recycling centers in our county. Covid 19 also contributed. Lastly, staffing reassignment played a big part. The staff that was assigned to recycling collection and sorting is now used in the kitchen and food program as it has expanded tremendously,” explained Director of Facilities, John Reeves.

Go Green Club is in contact with Zero Waste Humboldt to develop a plan to recycle on campus. Principal Ron Perry and Go Green have met with Zero Waste Humboldt to figure out how to move forward.

The club is talking to Recology Humboldt and Zero Waste Humboldt to estimate the amount of money needed.

Go Green hopes to get a grant and is planning future fundraisers.

Recycling wouldn’t just be better for the environment but also would be cheaper for the school because of the weight that doesn’t go into the trash.

“A case of garbage bags cost between $80 and $100,” said Jim Hogan, head custodian.

”The amount of garbage this place generates…it’s almost scary,” Hogan said.

According to the Recology Humboldt representative, Arcata High is already paying for three 90 gallon recycling containers to be picked up each week that the school does not use.

Recycling is an issue for the entire Northern Humboldt district and not just Arcata High. Schools in the district are working on the problem independently.

“The District is working with Zero Waste Humboldt to have a plan developed for the McKinleyville High campus to reduce waste. If the plan can be implemented, then we could use a similar plan at Arcata High,” Cindy Vickers, Director of Fiscal Services for the NoHum School District stated.

“We expect the grant funded plan to be finished in the spring,” Vickers said.

The recycling bins we do have on campus aren’t used as recycling bins.

“The majority of the students don’t actually know that when they’re putting things in the recycling bins it’s not actually being recycled,” explained Matthew Scott, the Go Green Club advisor. Proper recycling is a problem on campus as well.

“The recycling cans around campus are a small attempt to still continue to recycle what we can. Sadly, most of them keep getting contaminated with food and other waste products,” Reeves said.

Currently Arcata High cannot separate trash from all of the recycling material because the school does not have a recology dumpster.

Instead the recycling should be “separated from the trash in every single classroom, in every single area,” Van Mantgem said.

“Go Green is in the process of talking with Recology Humboldt County to figure out what size bins we would need or what they could provide,” Scott said.

They are also “talking with the custodial staff on how much space is actually available for those bins,” Scott continued.

To achieve the goal of establishing proper recycling at Arcata High, it needs the help of the students and many volunteers.

“We, as a student body, are working together to do this because we can’t get help from custodial staff because we don’t want to put any more work on them,” Van Mantgem said.

“We can’t really do it without everyone’s help,” she said. We need to make sure that the proper materials are being recycled into the proper bins.

“It’s really a matter of getting students to sort them correctly, so we can pick it up and then put it in the bin, ” Van Mantgem said.

To achieve that, the Go Green Club is “trying to get some sort of informational poster on the recycle and trash bin,” she said.

Perry supports the recycling project and plans to have an announcement at grade assemblies next semester to spread awareness.

The Go Green Club started with the first little steps and will continue to achieve their goal of a campus with recycling of cans, bottles, and plastic containers.

“Make it happen,” said Scott.