Recycling Conundrum by Eleanor Mancini

Blue recycle bins. Yes, you know the ones. Piled high with loose homework assignments, empty Dr. Pepper bottles, and left-over chicken nuggets. They dot nearly every classroom, probably making you wonder each time you pass by it, Do we really have a recycle bin? Is this just a trash can? Whose tiny cups of mustard are those? In truth, these were once fully functioning recycling bins donated by the Class of 2008 as a senior gift.

This was a thoughtful contribution, with the goal of making our school more green. However, the effectiveness of these bins has declined. This decline has not only made it extremely difficult to recycle correctly, but also put Knoxville Catholic’s administration in a difficult position.

After years of a blatant disregard for the little notes placed on each bin, saying “Please only put paper or clean plastic,” the school has begun reducing the contents which are recycled (only paper products, now). This is primarily due to the massive fines the school has faced due to the recycling project.

As the city has specific penalties for contaminated recycled product, due to the costly disruptions these products cause, our school has had to pay quite a bit over the years. These fines have forced a reevaluation on the necessity of recycling in our community.

Many private schools in our area have faced the same issues. Grace Christian Academy, for example, has phased out recycling completely. This is concerning to many, as one school can exude 900 metric tons of greenhouse gases a year (“Sustainable Schools- School Carbon Footprint.”).

Recycling all paper and plastic products can reduce this footprint by up to 25 percent.

As there is not much more KCHS can do, either face large fines or reduce the amount we recycle, it is up to the students.

As students at Knoxville Catholic High School, we’ve committed to what Mr. Somparayac asked us on our very first day, “be kind to one another”. not only have to look out for our peers, but also what we can do for our school. In committing to changing our actions, we can look out for the school, and help the Earth. Commit to ‘za in the trash bins, and empty you powerade before putting it in the recycle bins. We can do this to help make our school a more green place.

“Sustainable Schools- School Carbon Footprint.” Sustainable Jersey Schools, Mar. 2020.


Created with an image by Anna Auza - "Curbside waste trash sorting container for sorting waste to aid pollution and aid sustainable environment development and plastic pollution management."