RHS Green Team
- Mixed Secondary School Grades
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E-Waste Collection Week: AN E-FRIENDLY INITIATIVE IN RETROSPECT
Did you know that only 5% of the used batteries in Canada are recycled per year (since 2016)? In today's rapidly progressing society, our environmental practices seem to be a few steps behind, and students decided to take action as we hosted a battery collection drive, and the RHS Green Team's E-Waste Collection Week proved a monumental success with support from the municipal office, as well as the vested interest that students and staff alike took in this effort. Spear-headed by our dedicated youth, many students took it upon themselves to create posters educating others about the various uses of batteries, their impacts on the environment at every stage of their life cycle, and the steps to take to ensure effective stewardship so that batteries don't end up in the landfill. We encouraged students to spread the news of the E-Waste Week with others through various social media outlets such as our Green Team Facebook page. Our biggest obstacle was keeping our eager members engaged in the entire process, from increasing awareness about the E-Waste Week to teaching them how to sort batteries, along with the standard protocols of gloves, putting batteries in re-sealable bags, and sorting them into the proper categories and boxes/bins.
In the midst of our week-long campaign focused on informing students about e-waste, collecting old electronic devices and batteries, and making trips to our local Return-It recycling depot, our cause inspired students to ask themselves the question: What am I doing to contribute towards a healthy environment for all? Our answer came in the fruits of our labour: in total, we collected over 2000 batteries, which after proper bagging filled two cardboard boxes worth! On top of that, we discovered another pleasant surprise as students also brought in other electronic waste such as old computers, CD players, printers, and game consoles, and it was definitely awesome to see how our E-Waste movement inspired a greater collective and the common theme of stewardship among our school community!
As mentioned, it seemed that the biggest difficulty here would be keeping our members who were participating in this project involved in the whole process. As well, the collection box for the e-waste was placed in front of the office, which limited our ability to encourage students to recycle their batteries and other electronics. Considering the above, we believe that if this project were to be executed again, it would be of great importance for the members of our team to actively speak out to their friends and classmates. This would be done through asking for teachers' support of the project, which would allow the team to present in front of students at our school, and therefore resulting in the project personally involving both the students and the Green Team members. To add on to that, referring to the poster above, it appears that there is definitely room for improvement. For one, the colour choice for the poster (white background with green/black text) was not as eye-catching as we would have liked it to be. To add on to that, there is plenty of space (which is taken up by drawings instead) that could have been used to give additional information on battery recycling, in order to further persuade students to recycle their batteries.
Given the success of our E-Waste campaign, our next step is geared towards reaching out to other high schools in Richmond through the Green Ambassador program, where we share our current projects with Green Teams from other schools. In addition to our regular waste audits, we have decided to prioritize prevention over cure as we have planned the Bundle Up Richmond campaign where all heating systems at Richmond Secondary will be shut off for a month. This will be yet another step towards a more sustainable world, and we are excited to be a part of a greener future!