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Herders Go Green
Herders Go Green
Brealyn LaRue
Wednesday, March 04, 2020

      The Sweet Grass County High School is looking to improve their recycling program in the upcoming months. Currently, students and staff are able to place paper, cardboard, old telephone books and aluminum cans in cardboard boxes throughout the building. Student volunteers then carry these collection boxes across the parking lot to be emptied into the school’s main recycling bin.
      In the past, SGCHS collected plastic bottles to be recycled as well. However, high school custodian and facilities manager Sam Spector states: “It’s costing us more to recycle it than to throw it away, which is unfortunate”. According to Recycling Simplified, recyclable plastics must be empty, clean and dry, unable to tear with one’s fingers and must not be contained in a plastic bag. Acceptable items to recycle include water bottles, detergent containers and milk jugs, while items such as bubble wrap, garden hoses and sandwich bags do not meet the necessary requirements. 
      Jazzmyn Goetz-Mullen, SMART Schools Coordinator, explains that reducing one’s product consumption is much more effective than recycling. She states: “You can’t necessarily recycle plastic, and if you do recycle plastic, it is an open loop. You can never turn a plastic water bottle into another plastic water bottle”. Jazzmyn encourages consumers to purchase reusable items rather than multiple recyclable items.
      SMART Schools is a challenge in which the Sweet Grass County High School is currently taking part. The goal of this program is to save money and resources for Montana schools through the promotion of conservation, energy efficiency, and waste reduction while also promoting the health of students and faculty members. Schools participating in the challenge are encouraged to keep a record of waste that has been reduced, reused, or recycled. This information is then sent to the SMART Schools Coordinator for the current year, and the school with the highest performance will receive a $1,000 cash prize.
      The SGHS recycling program will not be able to improve without support from students, teachers, and additional faculty members. Jazzmyn believes that administrative support is key within a school setting. She explains, “If you have an educator or an adult behind your back, some great momentum can happen. It seems that when a student is trying to do it by themselves it doesn’t make as big of a wave”. 
      Sam Spector shares a similar viewpoint and believes the idea of recycling is poorly advertised throughout the school. He adds: “I think students definitely could have the opportunity to get involved more, and that would be a great thing”. One potential opportunity for student involvement is through the SGHS Serving and Volunteering Youth (SAVY) organization. Spector believes that contributions from this group would hold a major impact and motivate other students to recycle.