New Recycling Program Will Conserve Resources


            In 2010, Westmoreland County residents recycled over 39,600 tons of recyclable materials, which equates to an approximate 10% recycling rate, based on the number of county residents. The state-wide goal of recycling since 2001 has been to achieve a recycling rate of 35%, or over 126,000 tons of recyclables. With more discussion and concern for the current state of global resources becoming a prominent issue across the world, action is taken in an effort to conserve the resources available now that some take for granted. The same reviving and innovative actions and attitudes are present within Greater Latrobe.

            Mr. Richter, chemistry instructor, is reviving the recycling program at both the junior and senior high schools. “To me, environmentalism is about finding ways to reduce our impact on the environment that don’t dramatically change our lifestyle – I’ve heard them called common sense solutions,” said Richter. “Recycling is the epitome of common sense solutions.  It is a simple, effective way to reduce the resources required to produce new products while also reducing the amount of garbage that ends up in a landfill.”

            Through the Abitibi Paper Retrievers recycling program, a variety of additional opportunities for recycling will be available, opposed to the current recycling of only white office paper done by custodians. When throwing items in the trash, students should rethink the decision as many new items are accepted in the new program, including newspapers, inserts, magazines, catalogs, colored office paper, and mail.

This program is being organized through the assistance of Ellen Keefe, executive director of Westmoreland Cleanways, who provided the necessary coordination and contacts. The non-profit 501(c)(3) organization protects, restores, and maintains the environmental qualities of Westmoreland County for the benefit of all who live, work, and visit, acting as the designated Recycling Coordinator for the county.  “Greater Latrobe High School is highly regarded in the community.  Setting an example of leadership and environmental stewardship may lead other businesses and residents of the Greater Latrobe community to become better stewards of their own environment,” said Keefe.

            Through the program, not only will students and faculty gain the satisfaction of conserving natural resources, but a small cash credit from materials recycled will be given to the school. Richter, in cooperation with Sarah Switala, junior high guidance counselor, will help the Soles4Souls initiative by alleviating shipping costs. Soles4Souls is a Nashville based charity started by a former shoe company executive in 2005 in the wake of the Asian tsunami.  300 million people in the world are without any or adequate footwear.  On the other hand, approximately 300 million pairs of shoes sit in American’s closets. Since its inception, Soles4Souls has distributed over 16 million pairs of shoes to people in need in 127 countries including the U.S., over 1000 coming from GLJH. “On the most basic level, I hope everyone realizes that recycling requires no more effort than does throwing something away.  On a deeper level, I hope people adopt the mindset of being careful consumers of resources.  Ultimately, I want people to think of themselves as global citizens and stewards of the Earth for future generations,” said Switala.

Ms. Harvey, Spanish teacher finds recycling important and promotes it to her students. “It’s like living in a democracy, when you vote, you are only casting one vote, but all votes put together elect new person. When recycling, even if you are only recycling one can or one piece of paper or one plastic bottle, every single one adds up to something huge; even a little bit can have a great impact on the world,” said Harvey.

            Passionate about the environment, additional teachers promote the importance of recycling through their own means. Many teachers throughout the high school take the extra step of recycling other items, including bottles and cans within their own classrooms and taking them to depositaries on their own time, with many students taking advantage of the opportunity.  “Recycling is very important. It makes me sad that the school has stopped the recycling of plastic when there are so many plastic bottle generated everyday here in the cafeteria, so what I do is offer their collection in my classroom and I take them home every two weeks and put them out with my recycling,” said Ms. Kniff. “I am just thinking of the future generations who are going to inherit this earth.”

Teaching the importance of environmentalism in her courses, Mrs. Wright puts the same attitudes toward her life “I’m an avid recycler at home and I decided it is kind of ridiculous that students were throwing away plastic bottles here in the school. Being an environmental science teacher, I took it upon myself to offer students recycling in my classroom; I have a bin and accept all materials,” said Wright. “Recycling is primarily important because it reuses materials, but it goes way beyond teaching us to take better care of our resources. It is important for the student body to embrace and engage in the recycling program.”

The school-wide program is slated to soon, with student volunteers at the senior high and study hall students at the junior high collecting recycled items from all classrooms after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. “I hope by having students involved in the program, they will get excited about recycling and make it part of their normal routine,” said Richter. “I hope that the program will eventually be expanded to include other materials such as plastic, glass and metal.”

“Schools are the ideal environment to teach students and faculty the importance of conserving our natural resources and the benefit of making a useful product out of what is typically thought of as trash,” reflected Keefe.

Greater Latrobe Students Recycle…

“At home, we have 4 recycling bins for bottles/cans, plastic, glass and newspapers. Recycling creates less waste and effect on the environment.” –Claire Maxwell, junior

“Recycling helps the environment and makes a good use out of old paper and materials.” –Christina Majorsky, senior

“Recycling helps save the environment and promotes the world to not be as wasteful, creating less waste for future generations.” –Francie Fazzini, junior

“Recycling is important because it keeps Pennsylvania beautiful.” –Ben Laurd, sophomore

“I recycle pop cans at home because it’s less garbage going into landfills.” –Nick Wilkins, senior

“During school, we use a lot of paper and if we recycle we can save a lot.” –Lauren Truxal

“It’s good for the environment, it saves money.” –Mandy Mazzagetti, junior

“It’s good for the environment and helps us to create less waste” –Laura Toman, junior

“If we don’t recycle, trash harms animal’s habitats.” –Audrie Kuntz, senior

“Recycling preserves nature’s beauty.” –Alex Powell, sophomore

“Recycling is important because it keeps garbage out of landfills and makes the world cleaner.” –Amanda Wagner, senior

“Recycling saves trees.” –Alex Stipanoick, junior

“It is very important as everyone should do it because it saves trees.” –Joshua Roble, junior

“Recycling helps make our environment a healthier place to live. I recycle plastic bottles at school in Mrs. Wright’s room.” –Angela Peretti, senior

“Yes, it makes people happy” –Charlie Musick, senior