By Mike Dea and Sammie Beattie
Recycling has never really occurred at SLA, despite the presence of the iconic blue bins around the building. They’ve always been used as another trash can–until now.
SLA Senior Bear McGrorty decided to change that policy. For his capstone project, McGrorty wanted to make SLA a greener, a more environmentally friendly place for students.
McGrorty got the idea from this through a small, project based school called Greenwoods Charter School, which is located at the Schuylkill Valley Nature Center for Environment Education. The school was started by four mothers, who were very environmentally based.
“There was an emphasis on environmental education and sustainability of systems”, stated McGrorty. It was this prior education in “going green” that inspired McGrorty’s capstone goal.
“At the end of the year, we would do a recycling drive with paper products,” McGrorty explained. “The program would help fund the school.”
When first coming to SLA, McGrorty was faced with something completely different.
“I noticed that there was no recycling program. Attempts had been made by people such as Sky Kalfus (’11), but each fell through.”
Later, McGrorty found out about the Capstone program for seniors and was set on making his Capstone about recycling at SLA. At the start of senior year, he began researching municipal codes and meetings with street departments. McGrorty was faced with a question: How did Philly management (owners of buildings) get away without recycling?
Even though he got little support from corporations, McGrorty kept working on it. He started meeting with Mr. Lehmann and once he got enough information, Lehmann set a meeting with the head of Philly Management, who is in charge of upkeep of the school.
McGrorty then teamed up with Phresh Philadelphia and SLARP, two groups bent on community revitalization, in hopes that the additional support for a recycling program would help to facilitate the change.
He informed Philly management about the benefits of this for both the community and the company. Convinced by McGrorty that a recycling program would have more benefits than costs, Philly Management offered to place five recycling bins throughout the building. However, with negotiation, McGrorty got twenty bins and a dumpster, which comes to four bins per floor if the fourth floor is included.
As all projects, McGrorty was faced with an issue which was getting the word out. He is taking various steps such as weekly advisory memos, a social media campaign, and creating a team-up between SLARP and Phresh Philadelphia, making SLARP a subdivision of Phresh Philadelphia. He has also taken steps to ensure that it will continue after through financial incentive towards future education and ILP. “Maybe find a way of giving incentive to get kids involved in recycling,” says McGrorty.
The hope is that these steps will enable a recycling program to become a sustainable program to better the SLA community.
But McGrorty wants the program to remain dynamic.
“I want to create a model for other schools to base themselves off of,” McGrorty explains. “I want a student to take the idea into their communities or a visitor to bring it to their school. I want to create a model in SLA others look at as a guide to create their own.”