For three students at Phillips Middle School, going through garbage is anything but trashy.
As part of the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, the students conducted a classroom trash audit in which they collected and sorted through everything thrown away by their classmates.
“Only 22 percent of the trash was real trash,” said Anagha Kalvade, the recycling team’s coach and a parent of a student at the school. “The remaining percentage was recyclable or compostable trash.”
The students realized the benefit of reducing what is thrown out in favor of composting and recycling more items, Kalvade said.
And now they want to bring their research to the rest of the community.
“We have a list of different projects that we would really like to start here in our Chapel Hill neighborhood,” Kalvade said.
In 2010-11, 54,467 tons of waste were buried in the Orange County landfill.
In February 2012, Orange County Commissioners voted to close the landfill in June 2013.
“Many people don’t even know that our landfill is closing,” Kalvade said.
And, after the students learned the county’s waste would be transferred to a Durham County waste transfer station, they decided to do some research on how much that would cost.
“They figured out how much cost we will be spending on each truck when we send our trash away,” Kalvade said.
Chapel Hill Town Councilman Lee Storrow said the closing of the county landfill will drastically increase the county’s waste expenses.
“Anything we can do to reduce waste is obviously environmentally beneficial — but it’s also economically beneficial,” he said.
He said students should be aware of these benefits.
“Anything we can do to educate young people about how to reduce waste and be environmentally minded is very important,” Storrow said.
The students hope to present their research and their project proposals to Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt soon.
“I’m looking forward to meeting with them and hearing about what they’ve been doing,” Kleinschmidt said.
He said he thinks the town would benefit from composting and cutting down on waste, and he thinks it is important to expand the town’s sustainability options.
It’s important to let everyone participate in working to make Chapel Hill a better place to live, he said.
“It’s how we’ve been able to create this great community,” Kleinschmidt said.
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