Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2016 – Paving the way for Project Green

Name: Moira Meijaard
From: Miami, Florida
Grade: 12
School: Coral Gables Senior High School
Votes: 0

At the end of ninth grade, my school’s student activities director
informed me that my school was wasting thousands of dollars a year
paying for a recycling program that no one was making use of but that
was required by law. As the girl who constantly reminded her parents
to recycle and used allowance money to buy extra trash bins from IKEA
to use as recycling bins, I immediately began working to fix that.
The summer before my sophomore year, I sent countless e-mails and
drafts of various documents including but not limited to project
proposals, plans of action, and grants (in case extra money was
needed) to the activities director, who guided me through perfecting
a plan of action for the program we eventually called Project Green.
Within the first week of school, Project Green was approved by my
school’s administration. However, the administration was concerned
students would not want to volunteer for collections. As a member of
National Honor Society, I knew community service was one of the
club’s requirements. So, I spoke to the sponsor and negotiated an
agreement in which members could earn their community service hours
through Project Green. By September, Project Green started carrying
out collections twice a week.

I divided volunteers into groups of three to four and assigned to each
group a medium-sized bin (the kind normally provided to single-family
households) and an area of the school. Following a specific set of
directions, the volunteers politely entered classrooms and offices,
took the rooms’ recycling bins out into the hallway, emptied their
contents into the medium-sized bin, and put them back in their place.
This process was repeated until all bins were emptied. Then, once a
week, the volunteers emptied the contents of the medium-sized bins
into a large bin positioned outside the school. I spent these
afternoons moving from floor to floor, monitoring the progress of
collections and would make time after collections to speak to
volunteers about Project Green and any improvements they felt could
be made.

By the end of the year, we awarded hundreds of community service hours
to the volunteers and I am proud to say that we never had a complaint
about any of our volunteers or collections. Though I transferred to
Coral Gables Senior High School in my junior year to study in the
International Baccalaureate program, Project Green continues to
function using the same methods I first implemented.

At Coral Gables High, with over three thousand students, I quickly
discovered most people thought carrying out a recycling program was
impossible. But having been successful at my old school, I decided to
give it a try. I spoke to the sponsors of the school’s
environmental club, Gables Earth, and with their immeasurable
support, I wrote a plan of action that would allow Project Green to
begin in one area of the school and branch out to other areas over
time.

In regards to student volunteers, we are working not only with Gables
Earth members, but with special education students. This allows for
students of different backgrounds to come together and work towards
one ultimate goal, which I find is a beautiful thing at a school with
so many students who would not otherwise likely interact with one
another.

I love Project Green and have genuinely enjoyed every aspect of
planning and execution. I am extremely excited to see how this
program does in the future. It is my greatest hope that students form
sustainable habits like recycling that last a lifetime, since those
habits are the ones which will have the largest impact on the world.


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