Climate Justice Club sorts trash in front of STEM building



Faculty and students gathered outside the new STEM building and sorted waste into piles of trash, compost, and recycling.

The Climate Justice Club picked through trash in front of the STEM building on Nov. 18 to display the amount of trash wrongfully thrown-out per day and to quantify the misuse of the high school’s waste bins.

Climate Justice Club dumped not even a day’s worth of waste from the cafeteria onto tarps outside the STEM building. Students and staff members wore white plastic suits and gloves to sort the trash into the proper bins.

Before sorting the waste, the club weighed the amount of trash in the compost, recycling and waste bins.

Senior and Climate Justice club member Alex Pissios said the club hoped comparing the weights of the waste bins before and after the sorting was to quantitatively show how well the high school is doing with waste classification.

“We’re trying to find all the waste that’s compostable, recyclable and just trash. Then we’re going to weigh it all and try to see how sustainable we’re at being at BHS,” Pissios said.

Through weighing the trash, the club found that over 75 percent of the trash is put in the wrong bins, with only one-third of the waste put in the trash bins being classified as actual trash.

The weights pre-sort and post sort of compost, recycling and trash. These numbers show the inaccuracies of where the trash goes in our school, and it serves as a message to the greater student population.

Senior and club leader Brian Ly said the audit was done publicly to alarm the students and staff about what is happening.

“We want to use the data to raise awareness in the student body. It should be able to wake up students and administration about what is happening and how poor of a job we are doing.” Ly said.

Deana Coady, member of Mothers Out Front, a woman-led organization that works on climate, racial, and social justice, said the event was also meant for the purpose of gaining schoolwide attention.

“A picture is worth a thousand words. If anybody is paying attention, they’re going to say ‘Wow, what’s happening?’ Coady said.

Neda Sabeva, a senior and Climate Justice Club member said the club is consistently acting to improve the high school’s role on climate change.

“We just wrote up a petition that we’re planning on presenting to the school committee,” Sabeva said. “The petition is saying that the school committee needs to take further action in addressing the climate crisis.”

Specifically, the Climate Justice club is developing a curriculum for advisory classes to educate students about waste contamination. According to Ly, they are also trying to implement a climate curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Ly also said the issue of properly sorting the trash is present not only in the cafeteria, but also around the school.

“Part of the waste contamination problem is due to the fact that we don’t have recycling or compost in the quad, so a lot of students end up throwing uneaten food into the trash,” Ly said.

However, Coady said the food audit is far more than just an act for the Brookline community.

“We don’t want all our good food to go to waste by incineration. We need healthy soil, yet we have degraded it everywhere in the world,” Coady said. “We are mobilizing for a livable future for all generations, and this is one small thing we can do.”