Love Your Campus makes strides ahead of Earth Month


Published:

 

From Feb. 1 to March 1, Merritt Island High School (MIHS) participated in a campaign to Reduce Litter, Reuse Bottles and Recycle Better. The campaign, born from the initiative of environmental science and biology teacher Teresa Nick and developed by Recycle Brevard, aimed to improve campus practice of the 3Rs.

Nick and her Earth Club students spearheaded the campaign at MIHS. Recycle Brevard provided signs and put together a trivia game for students to learn what to recycle on campus. At the end of the week, students who participated in the trivia game received snacks provided by Recycle Brevard and were randomly selected to receive prizes such as reusable straws generously donated by a local business, Softer Sip (softersip.com).

Besides learning about recycling, students participated in a campus cleanup and tracked the number of water bottles saved by using the bottle filling stations at MIHS.

The results?

The campus cleanup picked up and filled about 10 grocery bags of litter from the campus grounds. Tracking the bottle-filling stations showed that there was a usage increase of about 3 percent per week, helping to prevent 1,338 disposable plastic bottles from being used.

Recycling in the cafeteria has not shown as much progress. Contamination still was an issue.

Nick reported a steady improvement in classroom recycling — participants were doing an estimated 20 percent better by the end of the campaign.

Those are promising results considering the challenge of the campaign to disseminate the message of what to recycle on campus to all teachers and as many students as possible in a period of just one month.

Teachers received a copy of the sign identifying recyclables. Students were exposed to the same information via infomercials and signs on the cafeteria walls.

Only 153 students, which represents about 10 percent of the students at MIHS, had the opportunity to directly engage in the trivia game brought to the school once a week.

According to the Stages of Change or Transtheoretical Model, “change occurs gradually and relapses are an inevitable part of the process of making a lifelong change. People are often unwilling or resistant to change during the early stages, but they eventually develop a proactive and committed approach to changing a behavior.”

That model only confirms what we knew before we started. It will take time and a lot of practice to get everyone to recycle better. Awareness is just the start; small and gradual improvement is what we should look for.

So, I am proud of MIHS for taking the first step into this journey. In order to achieve long-lasting change, one needs to keep at it. The power also is in numbers and getting more individuals — not only students, but staff and teachers as well — involved and committed to the process. That will be a key for MIHS to continue on the path of improvement.

Love Your Campus started a process at MIHS that Recycle Brevard would like to help all schools in Brevard County to begin. After all, for a community to change, the whole community must get involved. The more schools we help, the higher the chance we have in making a difference in our community.

Lucky’s Market in Melbourne wants to support that effort through its Impact Days program that will donate 10 percent of its sales on April 23 to Recycle Brevard.

During this Earth Month, consider investing in a better community by shopping for groceries at Lucky’s on April 23. Recycle Brevard volunteers sincerely appreciate your support. Happy Earth Day!

Email Marcia Booth at Marcia@RecycleBrevard.org