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Carrying trash? What’s the real story?

It is true. Students carry trash with them in this very school. Why? It’s actually a week-long lab for AP Environmental Sciences, led by the teacher Mr. Daniel Renz. The idea is that the students carry the trash that they produce for an entire week. In a trash bag. This includes everything that they throw away at home, both trash and recycling (this does not include food).

The most important takeaway was how the students changed. Most tried to change their ways during the Lab by producing less waste. Some students attempt to produce less plastic as well. But the biggest change is when students reduce their styrofoam usage because styrofoam is very difficult to recycle and is horrible in landfills because it decomposes very slowly.

Mr. Renz claims to get about 90% participation from his students, with the rest partnering up with others. It is a required lab, so data is needed to turn in. But some students just don’t want to carry their own trash.

It’s amazing how much trash students can produce, and equally amazing how little they can make. The highest recorded, as according to Mr. Renz, was 16-18 pounds of trash for the full week. The lowest was 2 pounds. But, he did say to note that the students do not collect their food waste. To quote him directly, “I don’t want the students carrying a banana peel all week.”

One of the last things of note is that Mr. Renz usually gives his class a challenge for the lab. In his most recent one, he wanted his students to not use disposable plastic bottles. He also has something especially special for the next one, which I will not reveal here but you can ask Mr. Renz about it.

Americans tend to produce 4.40 pounds of trash each day. The lab is designed to have students understand just how much it adds up. Mr. Renz said that he originally got the idea from other AP Environmental teachers and modified it to better suit what he was teaching at the time.

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