Friday, April 11, 2008

Sakonnet Voices: ALANA CLARK

I’m happy to introduce a new feature at the blog: Sakonnet Voices. There are many others in our community who share the same passion for the environment and doing what we can to protect it. So, from time to time, we’ll have guest bloggers writing on topics that are important to them. Here is Alana Clark:

My name is Alana Clark and I am a senior at Tiverton High School. I started an environmental club at the high school and we are called the ”Green Team”. Previous to the Green Team there were no groups specifically devoted to Tiverton High Schools methods of conserving and managing waste. One of our goals is to stop the high school from using Styrofoam trays. I recently went to a meeting with Tiverton’s Health and Wellness Committee to address this issue. During this meeting I realized that Tiverton High schools environmental problems are locked in place by what some may call “the man”.

Disappointingly, the high school still uses Styrofoam trays, but worst of all, has given up on using anything else. Their situation reminded me of a quote I heard recently in which Dan Kennedy notes “a lot of people prefer a good excuse to a good opportunity”. Our country is peaking in its environmental awareness, high school students are pitching in to conserve and also to educate, and schools across the country are “going green”, but Tiverton Highs School still uses Styrofoam trays? It just doesn’t make sense.

The most inexpensive and beneficial way to stop this is to use plastic and reusable trays. The committee argued that, even when specially designed lids were placed on the trash barrels, students were lifting up the lids to throw the trays away. I just don’t believe that. I know that students, staff, and the principle want to reduce waste; what we need is the financial support. In 2008, no school should be using Styrofoam trays, so its time for the Tiverton Health and Wellness committee to pick up this good opportunity and run with it.

First off, congrats to Alana for starting the new club. Second, I was shocked to learn this fact about the trays. When I was at THS we had reusable plastic trays that were washed each day. What an incredible amount of waste being generated – every day. For more information on the effects of polystyrene foam (a.k.a., Styrofoam) check out this Earth Resource Foundation report.

We can do better than this. What kind of message are we giving our kids? It is like we are priming them for life in the Throw-away Society. I don’t know all the facts yet, but I’m tempted to think short-term financial thinking is once again driving the boat here. If you have a child in our school system, I encourage you to reach out to the superintendent’s office and school committee to voice your concern. This is wasteful in every sense of the word.

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