Sophomore Allison Silverboard displays her reusable plastic bags. Photo: Allison Silverboard

Between the waste from snack bar treats and use of single-use plastic bottles for water and sodas, Pace students have ramped up in the waste department, leaving behind tons of hard to recycle plastic to end up in oceans and landfills. 

Founder and CEO of Terracycle, Tom Szaky, spoke at morning assembly about the focus and goals of his company. They include eliminating waste by creating free recycling programs and developing new ways of repurposing hard to recycle items. Since then, the Isdell Center for Global Leadership (ICGL) scholars have placed cardboard boxes around the school “in hopes that they inspire students to take initiative and recycle their own trash,” according to ICGL Scholar and senior Sophie Lettes.

In another assembly, the Middle School presented the Upper School with an opportunity to recycle their trash in exchange for a prize of free car washes or the Middle School using the senior lounge for a week. They created a challenge to see which division can collect the most plastic so it can be recycled properly.

But what if you didn’t have to recycle it at all? What if single-use plastics were not really single-use? By reusing and repurposing everyday items, you can cut down on unnecessary waste while also conserving natural resources. Reusing avoids the immense amount of energy and pollution that comes with the recycling process. 

Organizations like Terracycle and CHaRM (The Center for Hard to Recycle Materials) accept hard to recycle waste and transform it into new objects. Pace is partnering with CHaRM which collects electronic equipment, batteries, refrigerators, tires and more. In less than five months, the organization collected over 588,981 pounds of waste. Sophomore Allison Silverboard delivers unconventional waste, such as paint cans, to the CHaRM facility just south of downtown Atlanta. And on Nov. 23, CHaRM will be collecting hard to recycle materials at the Peachtree Presbyterian Church on Roswell Road in Buckhead.

Options are limitless when it comes to reuse. “My family uses reusable plastic bags and beeswax wrap instead of the regular plastic,” said Silverboard. Other alternatives include using bottles as planters, silica gel packets to protect documents from moisture and plastic grocery bags as trash can lining.

Mr. Szaky’s book, “Make Garbage Great,” guides its readers to a zero-waste lifestyle. He recommends making a plastic bottle bird feeder, CD coasters and reusable food pouch bags. 

“This is something that we all, even on a small scale, can get involved in on-campus, but we rely on our students to help us keep our waste streams uncontaminated,” said ICGL Director Tricia Anderson. “Whether it be in the classroom, in the Commons, or the cafeteria, students need to be thoughtful in how they dispose of waste. Our community needs to be held accountable to itself because if we are trying to do the right thing, but if no one is paying attention at the right times, we are going to keep failing.”

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