[Courtesy of Emily Droege and the Examiner Enterprise]
Imagine the amount of paper and plastic waste generated each day by some 1,800 students, teachers and staff at Bartlesville High School. Unfortunately, it all goes to the landfill, creating an adverse impact on our local environment.
But now, it will be recycled, thanks to the initiative of students in the new Bartlesville High School Environmental Club. They are launching a campuswide recycling and sustainability program that will help reverse this impact on the environment and increase awareness among students, teachers and staff.
“We could not have done this without the generous support of Chevron Phillips Chemical,” BHS senior Liza Williams, founder and president of the Environmental Club, said. “We cannot thank Mr. Bryan Kubsch at Chevron Phillips Chemical enough for his enthusiasm and desire to help make this possible. We are also grateful for the support of Mrs. Strain, our club sponsor, and our assistant principals, Mrs. Fouts and Mr. Harp, each of whom played an important role in both the development of this project and our club itself.”
Chevron Phillips Chemical supplied 110 interior paper and plastic/aluminum bins and five large 96-gallon bins for the program. In addition it’s providing a financial contribution to cover the initial cost of shredding.
Later in the spring, Chevron Phillips Chemical will host the Environmental Club for a tour of their facilities.
“Everyone has a role to play in reducing paper and plastic waste and finding ways to do that easily are important first steps,” says Bryan Kubsch, research operations and facility manager at Chevron Phillips Chemical. “Mismanaged plastic waste is of critical importance to Chevron Phillips Chemical, and unchecked waste of any kind on land and in waterways can be harmful to the environment. Chevron Phillips Chemical is proud of Liza’s leadership on an important issue facing the world around us.”
Blair Ellis, executive director of the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation, was instrumental in facilitating the proposal between the Environment Club and Chevron Phillips Chemical.
“The Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation strives to match the interests and resources of our donors with the funding needs of our teachers, students, and schools,” Ellis said. “We are thrilled to be a part of this rewarding collaboration and have the opportunity to work with Chevron Phillips Chemical and the BHS Environmental Club.”
The Environmental Club and recycling initiative sprang from Williams’ interest in the environment, which was awakened initially when she represented Oklahoma in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition and then last year, as a Spanish student, during a high school trip to Costa Rica.
“Those experiences opened my eyes to the need for environmental conservation and the possibilities for action,” she says. “I came home eager to make changes in my own life to help the earth and inspired to do something to act on my concern for the environment. Starting the Environmental Club was the result.”
Every classroom will have a bin for paper recycling. Bins will also be placed in the football stadium, field-house and cafeteria for plastic recycling.
Each month, Environmental Club and Honor Society students will collect the classroom bins and deposit them in larger 96-gallon bins. Green Country Shredding will then pick up the bins and take them to the Bartlesville Recycling Center.
“This program will help lessen the waste of BHS products, reducing our negative impact on the environment,” says Williams. “We also hope it will raise awareness about the importance of the environment and sustainability at our school.”
In addition to Williams, members of the Environmental Club are — Aarya Ghonasgi, Amrose Davis, Ashtyn Lashbrook, Autumn Garza, Avery Boulanger, Lainie Van Dusen, Elise Bear, Emily Wetzel, Emma Shelley, Erin Downey, Hadley Davis, Jamie Templeton, Jared Barker, Julia Fodor, Keely Laurence, Lauren Bell, Margaret Drummond, Miki Murad, Stephen George, Miracle Morrison and Vivian Orta.