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East Oldham Middle School Earth Force Team
Crestwood, KY

Earth Force Team is a student-centered organization that empowers students to identify and solve environmental issues in their communities.  To this end, the following description of our work this year was written by two of our seventh grade members:
Walk Through
At our first Earth Force meeting we decided to take a walk through of our school to find problems that affected the environment. We found several things like lights and electronics being left one when no one was using them, leaks around exterior doors and windows, and large amounts of recyclable materials being thrown away at lunch.

We decided that we needed to get the opinions of students and staff members in our school. We created surveys that teachers distributed to the students. We also created interview questions to ask key administrators and custodial staff. We found that they were most concerned about recycling in the cafeteria and lights and electronics being left on. From our results we decided to tackle the problem of recycling in our cafeteria. 

Trial Run
We knew that lots of recyclable materials were being thrown away, but we didn’t know how much of each kind. We designed a 6 bin system to collect the different materials. The 6 bins were: aluminum, cardboard/paper, Styrofoam, plastics, food, and other. We used this bin system for one lunch period.

Our results:

Materials                     In One Day (# of bags)       In One Year  (# of bags)  
Aluminum                    3/4                                 135  
Cardboard/paper           3                                    540  
Plastics                       3                                    540  
Styrofoam                    6                                    1080  
Food                           2/10                                 54  
Other                          1 1/2                                270 
From these results, we decided that our project needed to have two parts.  The first part was to get our cafeteria’s pulper fixed.  The second part was to set up a recycling system for our school.  We needed to talk to the Board of Education to take our next steps.

Taking it Public
We decided that we needed to make a presentation to the Oldham County Board of Education. We used all the information we collected from the beginning of our meetings. Once we created the power point we presented to the board and got their attention.
Click here to view our presentation <Earth%20Force%20Video%20Presenatation.ppt>
The Board of Education liked what we had done and was especially concerned that the pulper wasn’t working. Someone came over night and the pulper was operational the next day.

The Pulper
The pulper is a machine that shreds materials into smaller sizes so it takes up less space. Since using this, the amount of trash bags used has gone down about 80 %. The pulper can not take everything though; it can not take hard plastics, metals and some types of water bottles.

Recycling System
At the moment we are building a recycling system to recycle the plastic, glass, and metal materials the pulper won’t take. The Earth Force team is split into two teams; one team is building the recycling system and the other team is informing and educating the school about recycling and its importance.