Cafeteria Implements New Recycling Program


By Ivana Kosir

Have you wondered why some members of the football team have been standing by the garbage cans in the cafeteria, directing fellow classmates where to throw their garbage?  In efforts to reduce the amount of waste Niles West produces, the Niles West cafeteria adopted a new system for dealing with trash in addition to alternative materials for recyclable goods.

In past years, all forms of garbage would be dispensed in ordinary trash cans except for plastic bottles. This year, there are separate garbage cans for plastic, metal cans, milk and juice cartons, and non-recyclable items (food scraps, plates, napkins, and utensils). According to Green Cafe Team member Elizabeth Porporato, 74% of cafeteria waste was scrap food, and by conducting such a system, it will decrease the amount of waste Niles West sends to the landfill.

“In the beginning, it is difficult. But if it’s well explained and repetitive, [recycling] becomes a habit. Then we’re able to recycle, compost, and not send waste to a landfill,” Porporato said.

In October, a dishwasher will be installed in the kitchens so that reusable silverware and plates can be used instead of the current paper plates and plastic silverware.

Students say they have mixed feelings about this system.

“It’s inconvenient. We don’t have the time to individually throw out everything,” said junior Sabrina Caeena.

“I think it’s cool, but some people just don’t pay attention where they throw it out,” said junior Mariya Klrichenko.

According to Porporato, the purpose of this change is not only to help the environment, but to educate the student body as well.

“The final goal is to make you think about your actions, not just as school, but at home too,” Porporato said.

To help achieve this goal, each month there will be a different theme that will introduce various aspects of environmental awareness. All month,  posters, showcases, and a booth providing information regarding the theme of the month will be available as resources to help students learn. August/ September is recycling and composting; October is general stewardship; and November is water. Since this is a student-driven project, Porporato encourages students to get involved and offer suggestions to her and the rest of the team. She can be reached at [email protected] .