Students Teaching Students on the Importance of Using Both Sides of Paper, Conserving Energy, and Recycling

Students can be the best teachers. In 1995, students in the Student Leadership Class designed and delivered educational messages to teachers and students on the importance of using both sides of paper, conserving energy, and recycling. In doing so, they learned about peer education, promoting conservation, and how to save money for themselves, their school, and their district. One group of students met several times and developed a fun and interesting presentation about reuse and recycling. They concentrated on two main areas: to encourage the use of both sides of paper and to increase the recycling of paper and pop cans. The students delivered their presentation to groups of classes at special assemblies held in the gym. Before the student education campaign started, only 5% of the paper found in classroom recycling bins was used even partially on both sides (determined by sorting paper taken from classroom recycling bins), and 61% of the waste in the classroom garbage was recyclable paper (determined by sorting and weighing a relatively small sample (17 pounds) of waste collected from various classrooms' garbage containers). A second group of students in the Student Leadership Class focused on energy and water conservation. They meet with an employee of the District, who showed them the school's energy management system and explained where energy is used in the school. The students then conducted a "walk-through energy audit" of the school. They divided the school into zones and kept track of classrooms where lights were left on. This information was then presented at a teacher's meeting. In addition, for two or three times a week for six weeks in April and May, the students read conservation facts over the loudspeaker as part of the morning announcements and encouraged their peers to use resources wisely. They also placed signs promoting conservation in the halls. Furthermore, they held two contests. Each contest consisted of a conservation question accompanied by a clue. The clue directed students to a book in the library where the answer could be found. Students then wrote the answer on a piece of paper and put it in a special box at the front office. A winner was drawn from the correct answers. Prizes included two low-flow showerheads donated by Corvallis Hardware/True Value.

This procedure was repeated in June of 1996. Twenty five percent of the paper found in classroom recycling bins was used on both sides, and 46% of the waste in the classroom garbage was recyclable paper. (This time, students and DEQ sorted 44 pounds of classroom garbage.) Although these numbers still show room for improvement, the Student Leadership Class was successful in getting a significant portion of their peers to change their behavior. For the two month-long electricity billing periods from March 20 to May 20, 1996, the amount of electricity used by the school decreased 7%, compared to the same period in 1995. This saved the District $450 in electricity bills. Overall, many people in the school became more conscientious about their use of resources, particularly lights left on in empty rooms, because of this form of student education and regular feedback to the teachers.
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