When I was a sophomore, I decided to start a recycling effort at my high school school. There hadn't been any regular recycling since the 1980's so we were throwing away thousands of plastic bottles, 500 pounds of newspaper, and even more white paper every week. I got together a few of my friends and for the next two years, we recycled newspapers weekly. Unfortunately, our county landfill would not accept white paper and collecting plastic bottles was unwieldy for my small group of friends.
In my senior year, I started to worry that even the newspaper recycling program would disappear once I graduated. I decided that the only way the program would last was if there was some kind of profit motive.
I contacted the owner of a local insulation manufacturer. He said he would pay us $10 a ton for newspaper. Our principal was also enthusiastic about this because recently the school board had told him that the newspapers couldn't go into the trash anymore. He, too, needed some kind of continuous recycling program.
Then, I discovered a recycler across town who took all kinds of paper, plastic and aluminum. He would pay us $12 for a half a ton, and even more for the aluminum. He was also 30 miles closer than the insulation factory.
The next step to making the club a permanent fixture was to find a teacher who would sponsor the club so that we could meet during school hours (Our county has no after-school buses so approved clubs are allowed to meet once a month during school). Coincidentally, a science teacher found me first. She was working on her master's degree in biology and needed us for her thesis. She said she would sponsor us, as well as provide us with guest speakers from the local university's biology department!
All at once, we could afford a plastic and aluminum shredder and with in-school club meetings, we could attract more student help.
On Senior Award night, as I earned scholarships for my grades, a special mention was made of my recycling efforts. I felt proud and relieved that The Environmental Club would last beyond me.
Now, I am attending that same university and I plan to join their already formidable recycling effort. I also plan to focus on the environment as I work on a photojournalism degree.