First-Ever Summer Seminar!

28 students, parents, faculty, and staff talk trash for a day

How long do various items stay in landfill?

On August 11, the Sustainability Committee hosted DA’s first ever summer seminar to learn about recycling and how to reduce waste. The “Don’t Waste It!” workshop was hosted by Chatham County Recycling and Education Specialists, DA Sustainability Coordinator Tina Bessias, Science teachers Andrea Caruso and Theresa Shebalin, and the chairs of the Student Government Sustainability Committee, Mukta Dharmapurikar and Sanju Patel.

The workshop began with a fun activity that demonstrated how waste travels after it leaves your house.

Unfortunately, participants found that when rolling the activity dice to determine where their waste went, it usually ended up at the landfill.

Dr. Shebalin at the activity’s recycling station

To solve this problem, we set out to find out how we could make sure our waste wouldn’t end up in the garbage! We learned about which items are recyclable, how they’re sorted in the recycling, and where they end up. There were some surprising finds, such as the fact that yogurt containers with lids are recyclable, but containers with a seal that can’t be put back on are not!

We also learned about what happens at a MRF, or Materials Recovery Facility, which is where our items are sent after we put them in the recycling.

Paper is more recyclable than we had thought!

For lunch, we ate food from Sitar in Green-to-Go containers, which were washed out and returned after we ate. We also used recycled water bottles and compostable utensils instead of plastic. By having a zero waste lunch, we learned how to implement the ideas we had learned in our everyday lives!

We took a trip to the garden after lunch!

We finished the workshop by learning about composting systems, and some participants also stayed for an additional hour of interactive classroom activities. Overall, participants learned about what and how to recycle, how the waste stream works, where our recycling goes, how to compost, and how to implement more zero waste practices in their lives!

The goal of this workshop was not only to learn about how to reduce our waste, but also to develop skills that we can use in the long term and gain knowledge that we can use to teach others! We hope to use the information we learned to keep building a more sustainable future at DA!

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