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A trash can overflows with students' lunches outside of the North entrance after B lunch Sept. 9. Photo by Allie Pigg

Environmental Coalition to continue recycling program

Continuing their main project from last year, Environmental Coalition, a Rock Bridge Reaches Out (RBRO) core, plans to maintain the recycling bins at RBHS.

Core leader junior Memphis Cutchlow said the club will manage hallway and classroom recycling containers by collecting and emptying bins biweekly.

“We are still in the planning process, but we hope to make the recycling process more efficient so the recycling bins are taken out more quickly, and there aren’t overflowing bins,” Cutchlow said, though hopes they start in the next few weeks. “Additionally, we are trying to expand the recycling to sports events as well by providing bins in the bleachers and picking up trash and recyclables after the events.”

The core met Tuesday, Sept. 11 to discuss final plans. Students outlined responsibilities, meeting times, maintenance methods, conflicts the club struggled with last year and what outside help the team may need to accomplish its tasks.

Environmental Coalition sponsor Kory Kaufman approved plans for the club, and RBRO sponsor, Gwen Struchtemeyer, still needs to approve the document.

Kaufman believes recycling is a critical component of maintaining a clean, balanced environment. He sees too many recyclable items in trash cans and worries about growing landfills around the county. Therefore, he’s excited students want to involve themselves in managing recycling systems at RBHS.

“The main thing that [Environmental Coalition has] been involved in is recycling. I do know that they’re going to be doing more trash pick-ups, not just here at Rock Bridge but out in the community. Doing stream pickups and Missouri river pickups and stuff like that. We’re definitely getting more in that,” Kaufman said. “I also want to get more involved in just making more people aware of what’s happening in the environment. Increasing people’s awareness was also something I hope we could get done.”

Environmental Coalition, however, is not the only group to help RBHS be more environmentally sensitive. Last year, The People For The Ethical Treatment Of Plants Club (Plants Rights Club) leader alumni Quinn Cunningham applied for a grant from the Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District. The department certified the grant, and the club received $5,000. The club then bought recyclable containers for the hallways of RBHS. Plants Rights Club planned on maintaining the bins itself, but it wasn’t feasible because of  a lack of members. The group teamed up with Environment Coalition to manage hallway and classroom bins.

The last remaining member of Plants Rights Club, senior Micah Prenger, said the group became interested in recycling after seeing RBHS’s poor upkeep of recycling.

“Quinn [and I] saw that the vending machines had a new and popular product, kick start. It was popular enough the the trash cans were half full of aluminum cans,” Prenger said. “The People For The Ethical Treatment Of Plants Club had only three members to maintain all the recycling at school, so we joined forces with the Environmental Coalition.”

Kaufman praises the group’s efforts but said the biggest difference between this year’s recycling plan and last year’s is Cunningham’s absence.

“Quinn Cunningham was an amazing kid who really did a lot on his own to really get recycling started, to talk about energy and energy uses here in school. He was an amazing kid, but he’s not here anymore. So we have many people stepping up and taking his role,” Kaufman said. “So, even though Quinn did a lot of work, I’m confident that the people who are also involved are going to be our leaders and we’re not going to skip a beat.”

The Environmental Coalition’s core leaders are excited for this year’s program because many new members they weren’t expecting joined. Cutchlow believes the club will be able to achieve everything it planned.

“This plan is pretty solid and reasonable for what we hope to accomplish this year. A lot more people were recruited this year than last, which means there are more people to help clean out bins, so I feel that Environmental Coalition will have less challenges when it comes to the potential conflicts that were typed up before we knew what the turnout would be for this club,” Cutchlow said. “Also, Mr. Kaufman and all of the leaders already seem very passionate about making the improvements to last year’s plan, so I’m confident in our leadership and ability to make this recycling system work.”

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