Change is in the air. Our district is going green. Not with envy, but in an environmental way. Have you noticed that the styrofoam plates in our school cafeterias are gone? They have been replaced by compostable plates. Under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. David Aderhold our district Green Team ­ composed of students, administrators and parents, has implemented a number of changes to make our schools sustainable. Last academic year, the school board passed a resolution for the school district to participate in the Sustainable Jersey for Schools (sustainablejerseyschools.com) program, and what we see in the cafeteria is the first of many eco­friendly and sustainable initiatives.

Jessica Xu ‘19, a sophomore at High School North who often buys lunch at school said that “biodegradable plates are a good solution to the styrofoam problem. I think it brings attention to the environmental issue around styrofoam because people are exposed to trays daily. They act as a daily reminder that styrofoam trays are detrimental to our environment.”

A misconception among students and teachers is that our district does not recycle and so it does not matter where we throw the trash. The truth is that the district does recycle.

Meanwhile a big challenge for students has been finding recycling bins in classrooms and hallways. Sadly, there are not enough containers and the ones we have are not strategically placed to encourage a culture of proper disposal. This will be changing soon. Some schools in the district have already completed waste audits. We should be seeing new recycling bins in all the schools.

It is important that all of us to take collective responsibility of disposing recyclables and trash correctly. Did you know that if recyclable bins are contaminated by trash, the entire effort of recycling is wasted?

Waste management companies and janitorial staff do not have the equipment or time to separate trash from recyclable materials. So if you throw a half eaten pizza slice into the bin meant for cans and bottles, the entire bin ends up in the landfill and not at the recycling center.

In HSN Principal Dr. Dauber’s words, “we need to create a culture for recycling” and that begins with each and every one of us.

There is more that can be done, and “it takes a village.” For all students, parents and staff, please contact your respective school principals if you are interested in advancing green practices.

— Akila Saravanan

Saravanan is the treasurer/documentarian ­of the High School North Environmental Club