GOING GREEN: Club raises $27,000 to install recycling bins at Nevada Union High School | TheUnion.com

GOING GREEN: Club raises $27,000 to install recycling bins at Nevada Union High School

Members of the Nevada Union Eco Club install recycling bins on campus Sunday morning.
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Recycling just got easier for students at Nevada Union High School, thanks to 78 new bins around campus that are ready to receive cans, bottles and paper.

The bins were installed Sunday by students on the school’s environmental committee, who spent several months raising $27,000 to purchase them.

“Recycling is kind of a base for sustainability on campus, and it is important, especially for high schools,” said Junie Bedayn, a member of the school club and one of the leaders of the recycling project. “That’s where all of our kids are going, that’s where they’re learning. If they can see that recycling is just part of being a human being on this planet, that’s pretty important.”

That’s why Bedayn and the 50 or so members of the environmental committee chose to make implementing a campus recycling program one of the club’s priorities, beginning at the start of the 2014-2015 school year. At the time, Nevada Union only had bins to recycle paper in the classroom, and a few containers near the front of the school for recycling cans and bottles.

“We realized if not us, then who? Somebody needs to start a program that is sustainable and is going to stay there and be a strong program.”Junie Bedayna member of the school club and one of the leaders of the recycling project

Bedayn said other student groups have tried to install recycling bins in the past, but those attempts have failed — something that fueled the environmental committee’s sense of urgency about the project.

“We realized if not us, then who?” Bedayn said. “Somebody needs to start a program that is sustainable and is going to stay there and be a strong program.”

The club set its sights on purchasing wire mesh bins, similar to the waste bins that are on campus; those bins, Bedayn said, last up to 20 years and aren’t easily damaged. The students kicked off their fundraising efforts with a silent auction in the school’s Don Baggett Theater in November 2014, and received donations from the school’s Associated Student Body and several other clubs around campus.

They also started reaching out to community organizations and local businesses. Waste Management and AJA Video Systems were two of the project’s larger donors, and many other businesses agreed to chip in the $325 it cost to purchase a bin and lid set, Bedayn said. The students plan to install plaques on the bins to recognize those donors.

Bedayn said the club was “stunned” by the way local businesses rallied around its cause.

“It was inspiring to see the community was willing to be so involved in a little high school project,” Bedayn said.

The bins the group purchased are gold, and were installed next to the blue bins that have served as waste baskets in the past — blue and gold are the school’s colors, Bedayn pointed out. Moving forward, the newly installed gold bins will actually serve as trash bins, and the blue bins will collect cans and bottles, because blue is the color most students associate with recycling, Bedayn said.

The environmental club will work with Nevada Union’s WorkAbility program, which provides job training to the school’s special education students, to oversee the recycling efforts. The students in the WorkAbility program will help sort the recyclables and take them to bigger bins at the bottom of the campus for pick up; they will use any money they collect from turning in cans and bottles to the recycling center to help fund the WorkAbility program, Bedayn said.

Now that the new bins are installed, the club is turning its attention to making sure students know how to use them. The group created a short video to educate students on the background of the project, what can be recycled and how the program will work; students will see that video during their second-period classes. The club also attached signs to each of the bins to let people know what should be placed in each bin.

Bedayn said she knows it can be hard to encourage students to change their behavior, but using the bins is also an opportunity for her peers to positively contribute to school culture.

“I’m a little nervous to see how it’s going to work out,” Bedayn said. “But we’re pretty determined to ensure it does.”

Bedayn said the club appreciates the support it received from the school’s administration, maintenance team and student body. When student-led projects like this one are successful, it encourages students to take a more active interest in what’s happening on their campus, she said.

“The school is really there for students, and they have a big voice that I don’t think is exercised as much as it could be,” Bedayn said. “This project is us being able to show other students that hey, you can do this, too.”

To contact Staff Writer Emily Lavin, email elavin@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

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