CIALT - Silicon Valley Silicon Energy

In our small community of about 600 people, we are facing a potential crisis.
Currently we have access to one class one landfill, and it is about 30 miles away from our
town. It seems that there is no end to what is discarded in our society. Although landfills
are unsightly, and potentially dangerous to our environment, they are necessary. That
said I also believe that it is the responsibility of each individual to be as conservative, and
resourceful as possible when it comes to household waste. There are several options that
can help to reduce what is put into the landfills. These are just a few ideas, and some
plans that would decrease what goes into the landfill, and in return, will supply our
community with some very beneficial products as a result.
The local second grade at our elementary school has an aluminum recycling program.
All of the children are encouraged to save cans, and to spread the word to all members of
their family to do the same. Several of the local businesses are saving cans for these
students as well. The teacher takes the time twice a year to travel three hours to the
nearest recycling center, and turn in the cans. She then uses the money to buy supplies
for her classroom.
One service learning project that I have come up with is to expand the aluminum
recycling project to the entire community. The program will include four, 55 gal drums
placed at four different locations in the community. The school house, the local gas
station, the local court house, and the landfill transfer station have all been chosen as sites
for the barrels. Each barrel is painted white, and labeled for aluminum only. Several
students and I will distribute flyers door to door into the community to make every one
aware of this project and to encourage their participation. Two times each week, a
student and I will collect the aluminum from the barrels, and deliver them to the second
grade teacher. Our goal is to double what was collected last year by the students, and
continue to increase our collection in the years to come. This will be beneficial to every
one, the landfill is receiving less waste, we are participating in recycling, and the students
will enjoy the items that the teacher purchases for their class. Hopefully the students will
learn a life long appreciation and enthusiasm for doing their part to help out our
The other project that I am currently working on is a compost pile. I have combined
efforts with my neighbor, and fellow classmate, Stephanie to compost our yard waste and
kitchen scraps. Currently we have quite a pile started. We both have been researching
the ins and outs of composting, and it has been very interesting. I now find myself
buying food item in containers that I can compost, instead of containers that will end up
in the landfill. I have also become painfully aware of the amount of waste that is
produced in my home. I am much more conservative in the kitchen, and I am finding
creative ways to use up our leftovers, instead of tossing them out. I am amazed at how
many ways my eyes have been opened. It is like the snowball effect, the more I do, the
more I learn, and the more I want to do, and learn. We plan on expanding our compost
pile to include the other neighbors in the near future. I have also begun to use newspaper
and chipped limbs for mulch in my flower beds. This has been beneficial in many
different ways. The newspaper keeps down the weeds wonderfully, and holds in the
moisture as well. Not only am I saving money on the water bill, and conserving water,
but also I am decreasing the load that is hauled off to the landfill each week.
I have actively involved my own children, and now that school is in full swing, I am
involving the students as well. These projects will prove to be very beneficial to the
entire community.