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Ways to cut down on trash
May 12, 2023

By Inquiry Charter Healthy Owl Times reporters | About 50 extra-large bags are filled with trash every day at Inquiry Charter School, according to Mr. Jose Rodriguez, the custodial supervisor for Belmont Charter Schools’ three buildings.

Each big bag holds 45 gallons of trash.

Inquiry has three large dumpsters where Mr. Rodriguez’s staff puts the school trash. Two dumpsters are for regular trash and one is for recycling. More waste is thrown out than recycled, he said.

“The two large trash bins get filled every day and the recycling about every two days,” said Mr. Rodriguez, who is in charge of 35 employees across three different buildings that range from elementary to high school.

During a recent interview with the fifth-grade Inquiry Healthy Owl staff, he described what goes in the trash and how students can help reduce it.

He said much of the trash is from food and other waste from breakfast and lunch. Trash from the classrooms is often recycled.

Students and teachers should “try to recycle as much as they can, but it is pretty difficult because a lot of people throw trash in the recycling bin,” he said. When that happens, his team cannot put it in the re- cycling dumpster. They take it to the regular dumpsters with the rest of the trash.

Things that should be recycled are copy paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, and cans, Mr. Rodriguez said. If they are mixed with trash, they cannot be separated from the regular trash. So they can’t be processed for new uses.

Mr. Rodriguez also suggested ways students can reduce the amount of trash they throw out. Many people throw things away after just one use which is creating a lot of the waste. For example, paper. Students should not throw it away after writing down just one thing, he said. Use all the space on it.

“If you use refillable water bottles over and over again that will really help a lot,” he said. Sometimes the single-use bottles get into the regular trash can and then cannot be recycled.

Finally, he said, students should remember to separate their trash. If it goes in the recycling, make sure it gets in the correct bin and not in the trash can.

Illustration by NaeJon, fifth grade, Inquiry Charter.

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