A group of Holmen students who recently launched a sustainability society at their school planned to start small but are already having a big impact.
Founded by students Andrew Pfaff and Gavin McKeeth last month, the society has already successfully worked to remove Styrofoam from the district’s cafeterias and helped to recycle over 1,000 pounds of paper.
Caleb Butler, another member of the society, said he got involved because he believes that small changes in areas he can influence can ripple out and build momentum for something larger.
“You have to change your own corner first,” he said. “If we change our school, then other schools will follow. Then maybe Wisconsin. That’s the big picture but you have to start small.”
Pfaff and McKeeth got the society rolling by holding a start-up meeting, which about 30 students attended. Butler, Alice King and Lizzie Pfaff were elected to join the two founders as officers of the new group.
The society’s first project was to make paper recycling bins and distribute them around the school to stop the paper being put in regular trash bins. Earlier this week, the group collected about 1,000 pounds of paper for recycling.
At the high school cafeteria, the group spotted an opportunity to reduce the use of Styrofoam, which goes straight to the landfill, and replace it with biodegradable products.
“We’ve eliminated the Styrofoam to-go containers and those are now all biodegradable alternatives,” Pfaff said.
The switch was backed by district officials and cost about $1,600 to implement district-wide, according to Pfaff.
Also in conjunction with district staff, the society led a successful drive to eliminate the use of bleached paper products, which Pfaff said cause water pollution.
Goals for next year include planting 50 trees in the Holmen area and implementing composting at school cafeterias. McKeeth also said the group is looking at doing some outreach to local businesses to help reduce waste and increase recycling.
Lizzie Pfaff said she and her fellow members want to make sure they’re not on the wrong side of history.
“From a very young age we’ve learned that the earth is going in a bad direction and this is our way of really taking charge and making a difference in the world,” she said.
The group’s work will resume in earnest at the start of the next school year. For more information on the sustainability society check out their twitter feed, which can be found by searching @recyclingclub or find them on instagram by searching recyclingclub3.