Does Mounds View Actually Recycle?

Michael Wang, Staff Reporter

With concerns over global warming growing over recent years and many pushing for more eco-friendly approaches to energy usage and general consumption, recycling has become a hot topic in the climate change discussion. Recycling helps reduce pollution by diverting waste from landfills, conserving natural resources and reducing the pollution caused by collection of materials. The blue basket and the triangular symbol have become synonymous with saving the earth.

In most public places, every trash can has a blue counterpart. In Mounds View, these recycling bins are used even more. Students and teachers alike use the recycling bins to dispose of papers and plastics in a seemingly eco-friendly way. However, this “green” way of throwing away recyclables may not even be in place at Mounds View in recent years.

Traditionally, recycling has been managed by Synergy at Mounds View. Synergy focuses on environmental and sustainability in Mounds View, from traditionally managing recycling to more recent endeavors such as managing a kitchen garden at school. They also do other activities such as selling Valentine’s Day carnations and roses. 

Synergy, for as long as it has been around, has managed the recycling at Mounds View. Students run the club on a solely volunteer basis. Currently, it has about a dozen members, with most of them attracted to the club due to the prospect of NHS volunteer hours.

However, COVID-19 has caused an assortment of problems, which include a widespread labor shortage. Aaron Oseland, Synergy advisor and social studies teacher, is frustrated at the current recycling situation. “In the past, one of the main things we have done is focus on the recycling, because especially before COVID, custodians did not do the recycling. Usually the recycling would just be mixed with the trash and thrown out,” Oseland said.

Administration has instructed Oseland and the other members of Synergy to hold off on managing recycling, which has led to recyclables being thrown into the same dumpster as trash. “With COVID, we’ve been running low on custodians,” said Oseland. “We’ve had to pull custodians from this school to help out with other schools. They don’t have time to go through and sort [trash] after school. They have over 100 rooms to take care of. This isn’t a custodian issue, it’s a school policy issue.”

Mounds View has stopped sorting recycling from trash. With Synergy no longer managing recycling and overworked janitors who don’t have time to sort waste, Oseland expresses his discontent with the school’s policies. “I wish that the school had a system set up where they would actually take care of their recycling,” Oseland said. “We [don’t] have enough students showing up to even do the recycling either because not enough of them are willing to just do it because it’s something good to be done.”

Administration did not respond to a request for a comment.

Synergy plans to  bring recycling back to Mounds View. “I think one of the things that would really help recycling work would be to partner with some other group, because then you have that consistent number of people who are involved in Synergy actually wanting to make it happen,” said Oseland. He still believes that the school needs to become more involved in the recycling process instead of delegating it to student-run clubs.

Synergy continues to pursue eco-friendly goals, planning to bring composting to the cafeteria in the future. “The nice thing about Synergy is that Synergy is very open to new initiatives and new things being done,” said Oseland. “So if you want to help the school become more sustainable or become more environmentally friendly, there is a group that can work with you.” Synergy continues their mission, despite this minor setback.