A Campus Without a Recycling Effort

After a cancellation of the recycling program, a program is searching for new purpose.


Photo by: Zohie Walker

Classroom recycling bins overflow as teachers wait for an option other than the trash can.

Zohie Walker, Staff Reporter

Interact Club members stopped picking up recycle at the school since the beginning of October 2017. When teachers saw their full recycle bins, they started to wonder.

“When I found out the recycling stopped I was really upset, it’s horrible. I walked into my room I had a bunch of recycling and it was gone. I was going to take the recycling on my own,” teacher Devin Bratcher said.

According to administration, at this time, there is no recycling program approved by the district. Last year, the district removed the paper recycle containers from all campuses except high schools as some campuses found the community using these containers for trash. In October, all containers were removed from campuses without notification.

“We expressed to the district that we never had an issue with the service,” Associate Principal Richard Dixon said in a campus-wide email. “When we asked about a replacement company the district did not have that information or a timeline.”

Interact Club President Paul Poungsangchaun started a petition to present at the next district school board meeting.

“After weeks of collaborating with my officer team, we came with a presentation on what to state at the next district board meeting,” Poungsanchaun said, “through our presentation, we will focus on the benefits of recycling, the impact recycling has on schools and club organizations.” Poungsangchaun reached out to Dixon to help garner support from school staff.

“Interact has always used the recycling program as a community service opportunity and over the years we have gone from two to five containers. It is part of our culture to recycle,” Dixon said.

Nearly every classroom and office has a bin for paper material. In previous years, nearly every other Thursday, teachers would set out their bins in the hallways and the club would come by the classes to pick up the recycling. But now, the uncollected recycling is piling up or has been tossed into the trash.

The library sees a quick piling up of printed and discarded paper.
The library sees a quick piling up of printed and discarded paper.

The library holds several computer bank printers for students to work on and print their school assignments. The unwanted paper is was regularly recycled here.

“We get recycling in the library all the time, we actually have three recycling bins and they are all full,” Lisa Spree, librarian, said.

Kathleen Dixon, the substitute librarian while librarian Thomas Johnson is on military leave, feels strongly about this current waste issue.

“Schools generate a very large amount of paper, and to stop recycling on campus is an injustice,” Dixon said.

Some teachers, like Bratcher, who teaches earth and space, left their bins filled with paper as they waited for a recycling option. Some soon found their stash to have suddenly disappeared after school, with the containers left empty and flipped upside down.

“My recycling bin has been in my room since the first day of school. Recently I don’t know when the custodians took my bin, all I know is that they put all my recycling in the trash,” Bratcher said.Some people, like interact sponsor and government teacher, Henry Curtis, depend on school recycling because they are not able to do recycling in their neighborhood. The end of recycling has also had a financial impact on the club itself.

“I think recycling is important, I usually bring my recycling from home to be recycled at school,” Curtis said. “My honest opinion, I was very upset not only did the recycling help on campus, but it helped fund the Interact Club. The money went towards the transportation for our trips.”

Since the recycling had stopped on campus, the club contributes to help the community by going to Nature Trails, planting native plants, picking up trash on Galveston Island, and volunteering at events.

“Even though recycling has stopped on campus, we still go out in the community and pick up trash, while the school is going through this event,” said Christine Pulido, Interact member.

Bratcher and Curtis have been thinking of new ways to improve the recycling system.

“I would like to have uniform containers, so everyone would know it’s for recycling, with numbers, so the right containers could be returned to the right classroom,” said Curtis.

Curtis wanted a more organized system to keep the progress moving smoothly, while Bratcher preferred a variety of recyclables.

“I would probably add plastic, instead of just recycling paper. Aluminum is valuable too,” Bratcher said.

According to Recycling Across America, recycling prevents waste from going into the ocean – it is proven, that when there is a strong recycling culture, there is less litter and less waste going into the ocean and yet people still litter.

“It bothers me when people go out in public and litter. Usually, in the community, there is a trash can that has trash all around it. It’s disgusting,” Pulido said.

No one yet knows when and it a contract will be renewed, but the club would like to continue to spread the word about why recycling is best.

“I wish I could tell you when the contract will be renewed, but I really have no idea when the contract will be renewed or if the school will partner with a new recycling company,” Curtis said “I think we should teach young students about recycling, so when they get older, they could continue to recycle and eventually teach others to do the same.”