The season of fall is often associated with change; summer ends and school begins as the leaves of the trees change from green to orange. This school year leaves, aren't the only things changing color: Schools are becoming more green than ever before. In most schools, it's almost impossible to throw out your lunch tray without seeing signs sporting slogans such as "Greening our hill," or "Don't trash our future." What you might not know is that schools are doing much more than urging recycling in the cafeteria.
To make the paper used in schools, thousands of trees are cut down yearly. By recycling school papers, such as old homework, that number can be reduced significantly. Many schools have equipped each classroom with a recycling box, which is then emptied weekly.
In some schools, students can volunteer to empty the recycling boxes to earn service hours. The paper is taken to large recycling dumpsters to be picked up and taken to an area recycling facility.
This year "green" is beginning to cause change in the bus garage, too. Though for some schools certain changes may be a result of budget restraints, many of these changes are also eco-friendly. Some schools chose to modify bus routes to be more efficient. Various schools have stopped offering transportation during the most infrequently used day or time.
Schools that are not encountering budget issues, or are hoping to save money on fuel prices, are investing in more efficient buses. Different components, including frame, weight, engine, etc., can be changed in a bus to make it more fuel efficient while still being functional. Colleges offer public bus transportation for students staying off campus.
There are many little things that can make schools more green. Ever notice how the sinks in the bathroom turn themselves off automatically? This saves gallons of water lost from a leaky faucet that wasn't shut off properly.
Also, when you're first assigned your book in English class, what is the first thing you do? Most likely, you open the front cover to see who had that book before you. Reusing books from year to year saves thousands of trees and gallons of ink. Many schools recycle empty ink cartridges and some might even take yours if you have no means of recycling it yourself. Your school's lighting might be coming from more efficient light bulbs, or even lights made from partially recycled glass.
No matter how small, any adjustments that will benefit the Earth make a difference. So here's to fall, and here's to a greener school year.
Catherine Kelkenberg is a sophomore at Akron High School.