Recycling program gets trashed… at least for now


Rachel Sauders, News Editor and Adversitising Manager


  Having begun before the current seniors were freshmen, the recycling program at Masters has suddenly disappeared. The program started when teachers voted unanimously to have a student work program at the school. However, it was difficult to decide what exactly students would do.

“We were talking about wanting to develop a work program and there was a real need for recycling on campus,” Music Department Faculty Member Gilles Pugatch said. “I thought that it might be a great thing to marry those two ideas.” And so, the recycling program was born.

Pugatch was the main faculty member who ran the program, but a number of other faculty members were involved in its creation. Every week a different grade was in charge of recycling; a different advisory was assigned to a certain area to keep things orderly. This created an eco-friendly environment for the school and was seen as a way to teach students what to recycle and why. “We wanted to build a culture and ethos here of personal responsibility and environmental awareness and sustainability,” Pugatch said.

Last year was the last the school saw of the recycling program. The humorous skits that once in a while captivated the community’s attention during morning meeting regarding what should and shouldn’t be placed in various bins are now nonexistent. Pugatch said he had stepped down from the role at the end of last year due to many demanding commitments, but no one has brought back the program…yet.

“It’s ridiculous in this day and age not to have a recycling program,” said science teacher and girls soccer coach Amy Norris. Norris has been working to reestablish the program in a more effective manner, starting a new innovation group called “Sustainability at Masters”.

“We’re all going to work together as well as with other kids and faculty, hopefully, to be able to designate action steps that can be taken,” Norris said. “This way we’ll have a better support system, and people to actually go out and ask those questions, gather the information and bring it back to the whole, and then we can talk about how to go from there.”

One troubling problem that many students and faculty saw was the dumping of what was in the recycling bins. “From what I understand at the moment, recycling is still getting picked up,” said Norris, “but what has been happening is that people have been dumping trash in recycle bins and that contaminates the entire bin and so it has to be taken by a trash company or put into the trash bags.”

Another tricky aspect is how to encourage students to recycle without feeling as if it is a chore. Those who found their monthly recycling rotation tedious were relieved to not worry about lugging bags of papers and bottles down from the school building to the company’s truck.

Senior Amalia Mayorga said, “Although we were doing something very good for the environment, it seemed like everyone dreaded it.” Mayorga is also head of Garden Society, an environmental club at the school, and recycling is very important to her and, she feels, should be important to the school as well. Mayorga, as well as leaders from REEF, MISH and Young Activists Club, is working with Norris to bring back what she feels was lost from the absence of the program.

Another question the group is trying to address is “What’s the big deal?”

“All right, those plastic water bottles that you buy in those flats,” Norris said, “what happens if you throw them away? ‘Oh it’s no big deal, it’s just one water bottle’, but if everybody does that, and they do, what happens?”

The clubs are working to bring back presentations or videos, which really touch at the effects of very relatable actions, like tossing away water bottles.