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FUHSD implements new recycling program across schools

Volunteers+pick+up+recycled+paper+weekly+from+different%0Aclassrooms+and+collect+them+in+a+larger+bin+by+the%0Abasketball+courts.
Audrey Sun
Volunteers pick up recycled paper weekly from different classrooms and collect them in a larger bin by the basketball courts.

What you need to know:

  • The FUHSD Climate Collective is taking action to improve sustainability throughout the district with a Recycling Initiative.
  • The Recycling Initiative collects recycling around the schools and was rolled out throughout the district in late January.
  • Lynbrook’s pre-existing recycling program and the new Recycling Initiative program began to collaborate in early march.

Since the beginning of January, a new district-wide program has been implemented to help clean up FUHSD schools. Started by the district Climate Collective, the Paper Recycling Initiative works with clubs whose members volunteer to empty recycling bins from classrooms around each campus and gain volunteer hours in the process.
The FUHSD Climate Collective, a program run by students, has been working toward increasing sustainability throughout FUHSD schools. In October 2023, members of the program investigated where paper recycling was ending up across the district. They found that some schools had individual recycling programs, but most had none and recycled items would end up in the trash. A study conducted at Cupertino High School discovered that about 2.7 million sheets of paper had been used during the 2022-23 school year and had gone straight into dumpsters.
“In our time, sustainability is really important,” junior and co-lead of the Lynbrook Recycling Initiative Daphne Zhu said. “Making sure paper recycling is actually getting recycled is an extremely easy, feasible first step to achieving that because it’s our part in reducing the amount of resources and materials needed to produce paper.”
In response, the Climate Collective began organizing a way to standardize recycling across the schools. The initiative has recycling leads at each school. Zhu and juniors Medha Nalakonda, Kimaya Pantvaidya and Dishita Aeron — all members of the Climate Initiative — are co-leads who manage the collection process and volunteers at Lynbrook. The majority of the district began implementation of the new program in late January, and Lynbrook began in early March. Prior to the program’s implementation, culinary arts teacher Megan Miller’s Training For Transition class and the SOAR (Students Opportunities Achievement Responsibilities) class already ran a program in which students collect recycling weekly. After meeting with Miller to find ways to work together, the groups decided on a rotation that would benefit all parties.
The new program at Lynbrook involves students from Lynbrook’s Conservation Action Association and California Scholarship Federation clubs. Students participate to earn a volunteer hour for each shift on Fridays to remove the recycling from the print center, library, ASB den and GSS buildings on Fridays. They collect the large amount of recycling that is built up after Miller’s class and the SOAR program cover the buildings on Wednesdays, as well as a first round for the new science building. Students roll recycling bins from the gym to each location. They then look through the recycling to ensure that there are no contaminants and dump them into the large bins behind the basketball courts. If a contaminant is found in the recycling, the entire contents of the recycling bin must go in the trash.
“If we don’t have enough people working during a shift, it can take one student triple the amount of time it’s supposed to,” Nalakonda said. “We really want to emphasize that it’s a responsibility from the student side for those who sign up to collect the trash. It’s a team effort.”
Another key aspect of the Climate Collective’s approach to recycling is educating students and faculty about how to properly dispose of recyclable materials. The Collective has reached out to teachers, asking them to share guidelines with their students about what to put in trash and recycling.
“A kid puts a juice box in the recycling, and then you have to throw it all in the trash because with contaminated paper, the entire lot gets wasted,” said Monta Vista science teacher, FUHSD Science Lead and member of the FUHSD Climate Collective Kavita Gupta. “So a big part of this was educating students and staff. We talked to some teachers and asked if they can share this information with the students. Just one announcement is an important touch.”
The Recycling Initiative at Lynbrook hopes to expand the program to more interested students.
“Within the next few months or so, we’ll be wanting to open participation to other clubs with volunteering programs and any other students,” Zhu said. “We’re hoping to get as many people as we can and encourage other students to recycle properly.”
The new program provides an opportunity for more students to maintain the campus and learn about sustainability as volunteers help keep our campus clean.
“Starting small with recycling at Lynbrook will hopefully encourage students to say something more in their own communities outside of school, and help sustainability to branch out past just Lynbrook and FUHSD,” Nalakonda said.

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About the Contributors
Alex Cotterel, Staffer
(they/them) Alex is a sophomore and a first year staffer. Their hobbies include biking, painting, and reading novels. In their free time they like to listen to music and podcasts, and binge watch whatever their latest tv show obsession is.
Audrey Sun, Staffer
(she/her) Audrey Sun is a senior and a returning staffer for the Epic. Outside of school, she enjoys playing volleyball, trying out new recipes, and looking for new workouts on YouTube.

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