Sustainable Living Class at Newfield High School Makes a Difference
In Ms. Sharon Powell’s Sustainable Living elective at Newfield High School, students explain, implement and teach others the sustainability practices of reducing, re-using and recycling. They also learn about how limited the resources are on our planet, how sustainable practices can benefit us financially and that sustainability is good for the community of Newfield. Each day students separate trash, recyclables and compost in the cafeterias. After the separation duties are complete, students return to the classroom for the daily activity. These have included learning vocabulary words such as sustainability, recycling, reducing, reusing, pre-cycling, up-cycling, composting, landfill, recycling center, carbon footprint, waste stream, global warming, ecology, and methane. Students have discussed and argued extensively about the pros and cons of recycling and watched and reported out on a video about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Students wear protective clothing purchased from the Salvation Army when separating trash in the cafeteria. Most of the class work is done electronically on Edmodo to save paper. The small amount of paper used is carefully recycled afterward. Students have made electronic posters about related topics which are displayed on the monitor in the lobby of the high school. Currently students are creating movies on flip cameras about the work they do in the cafeteria. Each student is required to write a script, storyboard, film, edit and post their video when completed. Field trips have included visiting the Tompkins County Recycling Center.
The dedication to composting and recycling has spread from students to adults. The cafeteria staff have joined the students in composting and recycling. The one small trash can in the back of the kitchen now has very little in it at the end of the lunch periods. In the future, students and staff will be planning a garden using the compost generated during student lunch periods. The produce from the garden will be served in the cafeteria, completing the cycle.