Our colors are blue and green for a reason

Arjun Thakkar

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Above the Physical Plant Services room, a sign states the mission of the department: “to operate and maintain a school second to none.”

PPS is responsible for cleaning and maintenance on the two campuses. They work to facilitate a clean and safe environment for all students and staff.

One task that is especially important for PPS is the recycling effort at the school.

Erik Munson, Custodial Manager at Winnetka, explained how the group approaches conservation efforts: “We try to provide the option to recycle in the school. We don’t have coverage in every room yet, in part due to the opening of the new building, but we’re definitely working to reach that goal.”
Principal Dubravec said that new receptacles for recycling and trash were placed in the west wing to assist with this coverage.

Yet student compliance with expectations for disposing waste has been weak. It’s not uncommon to see wrappers, cans, and other trash lying around the cafeteria and student commons, forcing staff members to pick up after careless teens.

Part of this carelessness within the student body arises from recent scrutiny regarding the role that recycling plays at the school.

Some students question whether or not we actually recycle, and whether there is any point to distinguish waste materials for recycling.

Munson dispelled these rumors. “Recycling is absolutely a part our maintenance process.”

According to Winnetka campus Facilities Manager Steve Linke, “the school has been recycling paper, glass, cans and cardboard for the past 15-20 years.”

For items to be recyclable at New Trier, they have to be made of paper, plastic, glass, cardboard material. These items must not be contaminated with food grease.

According to John Kelly, president of Trinity Environmental Resolutions, who works with Munson on the trash and recycling collection process, the materials are collected and sent to a multi-recyclable facility, then processed and sorted in Northbrook.

The school works with the Village of Winnetka, which picks up trash, as well as the company Lakeshore Recycling Systems, which picks up recyclable materials.

Munson said that PPS is willing to put additional recycling bins in rooms that do not have ones.

Ultimately, these conservation efforts have little impact if students aren’t willing to properly separate their trash. This shouldn’t be as difficult as it has proved.

Dubravec said that the administration is working to strengthen the school’s waste disposal process from within the student body, referencing a future Student Alliance initiative.

She hopes to change students’ habits of mind to create additional discipline.

“We can limit where students eat, and we can provide every opportunity for them to recycle with new waste bins, but if we don’t change their habits of mind, then these restrictions won’t have much of an impact,” said Dubravec.

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