By MEGHA TORPUNURI
AP Environmental Science students in Ms. Katie Levensailor’s (Science Dept.) class carried around a bag to collect all the trash they generated to see their environmental impact over the course of one week. The assignment excluded food waste and any trash that might pose a biological hazard, such as toilet paper or tissues.
Students weighed their trash in separate categories (mixed metals, paperboard, cardboard, paper, plastic and styrofoam) and then recorded their data both on their labs and on a class spreadsheet. Levensailor’s 1st period class generated 48.25 pounds of trash, with an average of 1.87 pounds of trash per person.
The sheer amount of effort this project required, requiring students to stop and think about every piece of waste they created, surprised many early on. “At first I thought this project was a bit insane and frustrating,” said Antony Lan (Jr.) “But this project brought to my attention for the first time of how much toilet paper, napkins and tissues I actually use, because before we never pay attention to such trivial things since I will take as much as I need till I’m satisfied without thinking about the waste I’m generating.”
The purpose of this assignment was to raise awareness of how trash is being disposed and, although challenging, promote a more sustainable and eco-friendly manner of disposing of waste or stopping the creation of waste altogether. “There’s always a little bit of fear and anxiety [for students] that they’ll be made fun of, that they’ll be singled out,” said Levensailor, “but the overall goal is greater than that; it’s to see all the waste that we produce and the consequences that you as an individual have on the environment and waste generation.”
Ms. Jennifer Bartlau (Science Dept.) will be conducting the same project next week with her AP Environmental class. Aastha Jha (Sr.), a student in Bartlau’s third period said, “I think it’s going to be interesting to see what the result of the project is. I consider myself to be an environmentally conscious person but am eager to see whether or not my lifestyle and habits are environmentally friendly.”