So, get this, here we stood in a circle and in the middle of us was a pile of trash. Not just any trash, school trash! Christina comes up to use with bags of classroom trash, explains that today we will be completing a Waste Audit to find out what’s ending up in our waste stream, and then opens the bag she was holding and dumps it out onto a tarp! We suited up with gloves and aprons to protect our clothing and then reluctantly went to the pile.
We didn’t know what to expect. We slowly gathered around the pile of classroom trash and one by one started sorting what we found into blue, green and orange bins. As we sorted the trash, I started noticing plastic bottles, leftover food, juice boxes, straws and sporks. What started out as a shocking activity turned into a game! We started competing to see who could find the most plastic bottles and chip bags! I heard fellow interns commenting that they couldn’t believe why someone would throw away uneaten food into the garbage! We really got into the waste pile. After seemingly no time at all, we were finished collecting our data. At the end of the Waste audit, we recorded the total trash, recyclable plastics and paper, and compost and created a graph of our data.
After cleaning up, weighing all the bins, we headed to the classroom to debrief. We created charts of the data collected. Christina asked us what we noticed during the waste audit and what category make up most of the waste? We found out that our school’s waste was made up of mostly recyclables! We spent the rest of the meeting time figuring out what we could do to fit that and created a plan to work on it for the next meeting. We had a great time picking up trash, seriously, I’m not kidding!