By Amber Bartlett (’18) and Sammi Dorfan (’18)

Imagine the chaos that would ensue if the maintenance staff of SDJA went on strike. If the rebellion started on Monday, then by Friday students would be left nauseated and unable to eat due to the week’s worth of waste occupying their regular tables. Taki wrappers would be hanging in the trees, jicama with chili would begin to look more like bags of blood, Cheez-Its would be scattered on the ground, and students would have nothing left to say but: “How dare the trash be so entitled as to inconvenience me.”

Eco club
SDJA Eco Club poses with the trash that they spent their POD cleaning up. Photo: Sammi Dorfan (’18)

When interviewing students about why they left unoccupied trash just feet away from garbage receptacles, many attributed their shortcomings to indolence. Talia Trackman (‘20) admitted that she “was lazy.” When asked how she thought visitors to our campus might perceive our trash-ridden lunch area, she answered, “They look at us as spoiled kids who rely on others to clean up after us.” But is that how we want to be perceived?

Though most students may not understand the gravity of this situation, the Eco Club and the administration do. Emily Bumps, administrative assistant, with feelings of disdain said, “I get disgusted. I can literally walk by a piece of trash and feel guilt when I walk past and have to go back to pick it up. In some ways, I don’t want to judge people for not being as environmentally aware as me, but it is 2017 people.”

Nadav Kempinski (‘17), Vice President of the Eco Club, thinks that our worsening trash situation is “a frustrating experience.” He and many other students and faculty believe that “we’re better than this; students at our school are talented and driven, but we can’t let that make up for how uncleanly and disrespectful we are to the people who clean up our messes.” Nadav continued, “it’s crazy to see how much trash we create and leave on the ground each day.”

Eco Club has been making a conscious effort to create an environmentally friendly campus. We are reducing trash on campus by “adding more trash/recycling bins to campus, making trash cans and water bottle stations more accessible, and raising student awareness on how we can combat the waste we constantly create.” Eco Club is planning to develop a campus in which all students are aware about how they affect the environment.

The trash on campus is also troublesome for Isaac Rosen (‘19), but for a different reason than you might expect. He complained that sometimes when a student is the last one at their table, the teacher makes them pick up trash that isn’t theirs, which he admits “is an inconvenience.” Jose Galicot (‘19) agrees and confesses that sometimes he doesn’t pick up his trash for fear of being late to class. Inconveniences, however, should be the very least of our worries. Despite being, as Jose Galicot (‘19) said, “dirty and unprofessional,” the waste that besmirches our beautiful campus offends the maintenance staff who work tirelessly to keep the campus clean, poses a threat to wildlife, and is a complete and utter disrespect to the earth on which we live.

Imagine peering out of the window and seeing leaves dancing in the wind instead of yesterday’s waste. Who are we to litter the grounds that provide us with sustenance, everlasting beauty, and a home? While it might not seem like it, our time on the SDJA campus is fleeting. Let’s not leave a legacy composed of plastic bags, let’s leave one composed of compassion. Let’s turn our campus into a cornucopia of respect, not one of trash.

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