Southwest Reinstates Recycling Program

Lindsey McMillen and Berit Schaefer, Featured Writer

Prior to COVID-19 the recycling program at Southwest High School was running smoothly. However, during the past two years, the recycling program had been nonexistent. Green Team and National Honors Society worked hard to get the program back up and running for the 2022-2023 school year. To get more information about the new program we talked to Co-Presidents of Green Team Maggie Smith (‘23) and Libby Kramer (‘23). 

After interviewing Smith and Kramer they revealed that before the pandemic, NHS was in charge of the recycling campaign at Southwest. This started when the Minneapolis Public Schools got a grant to start the process, but it eventually fell off when the students were out of the building because of COVID-19. Once classes were back in session, the leaders of Green Team noticed that the recycling was being mixed in with the garbage, and decided that we needed a change.  

Green Team members Elsie Belina (‘24) and Irene Howard (‘24) collecting recycling.

Once the Green Team leaders made the decision to bring back recycling, they had to come up with a process to make it work. Smith said “Well we knew how important recycling is, and we knew it was something we could directly do at the school. We had all the things like recycling bins and dumpster already in place, there just wasn’t the manpower to actually do anything”. The process of getting the program back was pretty easy. The leaders of Green Team met with Dr. Bennett right away in September. He was supportive but made it clear that he wouldn’t take the project into his own hands and the staff would not be responsible.

Now that the program is back up and running, recycling Thursdays are now a quarterly responsibility for National Honor Society and Green Team members. In order to participate a student must sign up on the Google Sheets to pick a day that works best for them. On the day, everyone meets after school in the commons and grab the big recycling bins that are in the lunchroom. After grabbing the bins the students split up into groups of 2 or 3, are assigned to a part of the building, and go off to collect the recycling from each classroom. After they are finished, they bring it to the loading dock area and dump the bin into the big recycling outside. Now the students are done with recycling for the quarter and it only took around 30 minutes. 

Even though Smith and Kramer are seniors, they have a vision for the future of Southwest High School recycling. Smith said, “We definitely want to expand recycling more because there are a lot of teachers and classrooms that aren’t participating in it. We have a lot of teachers that don’t put out their recycling on Thursdays. So I think as long as we keep it up people will get more used to it, so hopefully, in the coming year’s teachers will know what to do and they’ll be ready every Thursday.” 

Along with that, future goals include lunchroom recycling and composting. As of now, the lunchroom recycling and compost bins go in the trash dumpster because they are not properly sorted. This year was a good starting point for the recycling program at Southwest, we hope to see these goals accomplished in the future.