By, Caitlin Smith
In the midst of a chilly January, we took a week’s rest from traditional academic studies and devoted our focus as a student body to waste, one of the biggest problems plaguing our modern world. Individuals are decreasingly aware that their impact on the world is quickly increasing global warming through greenhouse gas emissions. We explored trash’s impact on a local, national, and global scale and educated ourselves about how we can save the world from becoming a complete garbage dump. However, Kathleen H. ’18, one of the heads of COW, reflected, “Unfortunately, most of the momentum built up during the week of the forum was lost as soon as the forum ended, so several plans for long term projects, including a school-wide e-waste collection and a secondhand clothing sale, were not followed through to implementation.” Despite Global Forum’s role to increase our waste awareness, it is still not entirely clear where we stand as a community in terms of the environment.
At the end of lunch, Winsor students hurry to empty the leftover contents of their plates into miscellaneous disposal holes to get to class on time. Though there are no longer bright signs labeling specific sections as compost, according to Mr. Downes,“[the cafeteria staff] still [composts] in the kitchen where [they] have more control of the garbage from being contaminated by some of the things that go into the student garbage cans, thus having it be rejected by farms.” However, “there’s a lot of confusion over what can and can’t go in each barrel, and the placement of the recycling bin makes it easy to miss.” Clearer signs by the disposal bins would allow us to use the system more productively.
After investigating the pros and cons of certain materials during Global Forum, Mr. Downes justifies, “We started using plastic again after using the corn cups for several years because the waste disposal company went single stream and told us that repurpose was as important as recycle…Reduction and reuse are the most effective way you can save natural resources, protect the environment, and save money, according to the EPA.” The reason plastic cups have not completely disappeared from the dining hall is because the current configuration of the dish area does not provide enough space to wash the cups of over 400 students, plus faculty and staff.
So how can we, as individuals, reduce our impact on the environment at Winsor, and on the Boston, and national level? Bringing your own water bottles or travel mugs, eco-friendly snacks, and reusable containers to school will eliminate the need to buy or be provided with a disposable alternative. Additionally, being aware of your consumer choices is important on a local level. As tempting as hot fried rice from the Galleria food court sounds, it is served on a non-reusable styrofoam plate. If you want to dive deeper, do a trash audit and determine what you throw away to make sustainable swaps. The action that has the greatest impact on the Earth is reducing; challenge yourself to minimize your wasteful purchases. COW plans on “encouraging active change through monthly carbon footprint reduction challenges for the whole school… [like] carpooling or taking public transportation…, taking shorter showers, and turning off the lights in unoccupied rooms. Since we are in the city, we are exploring urban sustainability and agriculture by installing an aeroponic garden.” Ultimately, in order to reduce our environmental impact, we must work together and hold ourselves accountable for our actions, but no one is perfect and this is not a quick-fix. Try your best, be patient, be aware, and be kind to the Earth.