When Cassie Holcombe discovered that Washougal High School was far behind other Clark County schools for recycling, she decided to make a change.It became the basis of her senior project, Save Our Scraps.
“I want to leave the school with something lasting,” she said. “And I wanted to educate people on what their decisions mean. I basically want people to learn to compost more.”
Until her project, WHS recycling efforts were limited to bottles and paper.
“I’ve always recycled at home,” Holcombe said. “I think a lot of people don’t realize the impact our behavior has on the environment. If they think about their actions, they could really make a difference.”
There are now several sets of new bins positioned in the commons area.
Each set of bins features four receptacles that hold milk cartons, trash that can’t be recycled (shiny paper), food and paper (compostable); and plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
Holcombe has been composting with worms at home and plans to earn her master composting certificate. She’s also helped the cafeteria switch from Styrofoam plates to paper ones. In the future, she would like to provide the school’s cooking classes with a small set of bins and add bins in the school’s bathrooms for paper towels.
“I am really passionate about the environment,” Holcombe said. “More education is definitely needed here in regard to recycling.
“Most people want to do the right thing and there are a few that just don’t care, but some are genuinely confused. This really needs to start at the middle school level, so everyone will be on the same page.”
Save Our Scraps officially rolled out at the beginning of the new semester in February. To address the education aspect, Holcombe created a Powerpoint presentation with information about the program, and has spent a lot of time in the commons answering questions and encouraging her peers to recycle.
The school’s custodial staff and administrators have also been helping her teach other students how to use the new system.
“I’m hoping it catches on,” Holcombe said. “It’s a work in progress but I don’t see why anyone would go back to the old system.”