Be-leaf-ing in a better environment: Green Team takes on pond clean up

Green team students pick up trash polluting the Wag-A-Bag pond on their trash-pick up community service day. The students to pick up the most trash could win free ice cream as a reward.
Green team students pick up trash polluting the Wag-A-Bag pond on their trash-pick up community service day. The students to pick up the most trash could win free ice cream as a reward.

Sporting latex gloves and wearing old clothes, students hauled trash bags and trash pickers. They picked up wrapper after wrapper, bottle after bottle, until the community pond and the greenery around it sparkled in its newer, more pristine state. 

On Nov. 19, the Green Team club met up at the Wag-A-Bag pond in Steiner Ranch to clean up the surrounding area and pick up trash items that polluted the commercial center’s green areas. 

“There was a ton [of trash in the pond], and it was really polluting the environment and hurting the animals.” junior and club treasurer Ethan Huey said. “Later on, we plan to work on the garden, make some birdhouses, plant flowers and [other] things like that.”

Part of the team’s plans for this year includes tackling the recycling system at the school. Currently, the school does not recycle any materials, and all disposal is directed towards the landfill. 

“Even though you see recycling bins, it doesn’t actually get recycled, so that’s a huge problem,” Danielle Barcenas, club sponsor and AP Environmental Science teacher, said. “Since we’re a leader in almost everything else in the school,  it would make sense that we  lead the way environmentally as well.”

Many students and teachers have begun taking recyclable materials back home to dispose of them properly. However, the Green Team hopes to implement other measures to make recycling at school more accessible. 

“If we can’t get [recycling systems] sponsored by the school, then we’re planning on possibly having our own Green Team recycling bins that people can put recycling in,” Huey said. “We’ll take them to an actual recycling center so they don’t end up in the landfill.”

According to the most recent Inventory Report, U.S. landfills released an estimated 122.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Comparatively, the average teen produces 110 tons of carbon dioxide in their lifetime.

“Whether trying to set up a recycling system in school, or [students] making more eco-conscious decisions at home, we’re just hopefully making sure everyone’s more aware,” Celina Yang, junior and vice president of Green Team, said. “[Everyone] can put more effort into trying to reduce their carbon footprint.”

One of the main focuses of the Green Team includes increasing awareness, more specifically, educating students about environmentally friendly habits and how to play their part in saving the environment.

“Since we are going to grow up with a planet that has more and more carbon, it’s really important to make sure that teenagers are being mindful,” Yang said. “ So when they grow up, they’ll help restore the planet that we live on”

In the future, the club hopes to create videos educating the community on proper recycling practices. However, the club has already mobilized club members by  holding monthly educational meetings and encouraging them to complete monthly challenges and service tasks.

“Hopefully, what we [are doing] will encourage members, but also just spread awareness throughout the school,” junior and Green Team president Francisco Ardilla said. “Beyond Vandegrift, I hope that Green Team shows other schools in Leander ISD the impact that students can have.”

Other schools in the district have started environmental clubs similar to the Green Team, with their goals also including educating students.

“We only have one planet, and the more we understand how to conserve it and live sustainably, the better off we will be as a whole,” Barcenas said. “We’re already moving in that direction, it’s just kind of slow, unfortunately. So the more people that are educated about it, the faster we’ll hopefully get there.”

The Green Team & Environmental Efforts on Campus

The newly formed organization has taken on a lot of initiatives in their first year amidst a surprising number of members joining and instituting ideas. The students' desires for addressing environmental concerns remains paramount for their generation.

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About the Contributor
Lourdes Hernandez Peraza, Staff Reporter
Lourdes Hernandez-Peraza is a junior and is excited for her first year on the Voice. In addition to being a part of the staff, she also participates in theater, UIL academics, and National French Honor Society. In her free time, you can catch Lourdes reading, cross-stitching, baking and making smoothies, or doing nail art.

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