Saint Ursula Students Take On Waste Reduction


I love hearing about young people growing by practicing and learning about how they can contribute to strengthening their community. At Saint Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, one way students are doing that is through their Earth Club. The group has implemented a “reduce/are-use/recycle program that has made a HUGE impact at the school and has dramatically decreased the amount of trash generated. Skye Toomey, a senior this Skye Toomey, a senior at Saint Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, shares why she is in her school's Earth Club and how her group is helping to reduce waste.year, wrote about her experience in the Earth Club and why it is important to her.

In her own words…

“Here at Saint Ursula Academy, we take our mission to build a better world seriously. Amongst the many ways that we achieve this is through our Earth Club and “Green Team”. The Green Team consists of members from the Earth Club as well as students taking the AP Environmental Sciences elective. The Earth Club’s mission is to promote environmentalism and natural resources through understanding our environment and our impact upon it as human beings.

One of the ways that the Earth Club has implemented its mission is through the Composting, Recycling, and Upcycling system. Over the course of the First Semester of  the 2017- 2018 school year (August 10-December 19) we have sorted our lunch trash into landfill, compost, upcycling, and recycling categories. We as a school have also implemented reusable dishes to further cut down on waste. Here are some of the statistics that show how successful this program has been at reducing our waste:

  • 85 composting days (24 lbs/day average) = 2,040 pounds
  • 85 upcycling days = 50 pounds of packaging upcycled (soft plastics, foil-lined granola bar wrappers and chip bags)
  • (Recycling program already in place before grant; the new waste reduction initiative ensures that recycling is now properly sorted)
  • Disposable plates saved: 150/day x 85 days = 12,750 plates
  • Disposable cups saved: 100/cups x 85 days = 8,500 cups
  • Disposable silverware saved: 150 pieces/days x 85 days = 12,750 silverware

Total pounds of waste diverted (from last year as well)

  • 3,216 pounds of compost diverted
  • 74 pounds of upcycling diverted

I have been a member of the Earth Club for my entire 4 years at St. Ursula. For the last two of those years, I have been in a leadership position. To see such a huge success in this endeavor is really exciting to me. Every day at lunch, two to three girls from the Earth Club or one of the AP Environmental Science classes monitor the recycling program at lunch and also answer questions about what can be composted versus thrown out, or recycled versus upcycled. This helps to educate our fellow classmates as well as ensuring that each item ends up in the right spot. We all sign up for lunch days voluntarily, and everyone really enjoys it.

Why is this important to me? Well, I was raised by my mother who is an active environmentalist and has taught me to respect the environment from the very beginning of my life. She instilled in me a sense of awe at the wonder of nature and a sense of ownership for the stewardship of our planet. I hope to be able to make a difference or to educate others through this recycling program, or any of the other wonderful things we do here at Saint Ursula to make the world a little bit better, because every little bit helps.”

~ Skye Toomey

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