By now, I know by heart the sound of Old School’s voice intoning, “Pass-ing time!” The first bell has blared, and he’s herding hundreds of students out of the commons area where they’ve been eating lunch. Passing time is the five-minute period between classes at Southwest High School, and Old School (I don’t know his real name) is one of the hall monitors. “Passing time. Get yourself to class!”
It’s passing time in another way: time for me to figure out how to pass on to students and staff the responsibility of collecting clean school organics. It should be their responsibility, not mine. I’m like a mother who doesn’t hand off responsibilities to her children, who continues to make their lunches well into high school. Wait, I am that mother. Delegation has never been my strong suit, whether because I lean toward perfectionism or hesitate to ask others to do what I can do myself.
I had a conversation with a student beside the compost bin this week. He said something to the effect of “This is such a hardship” (separating his trash). “Why do we have to do it?” I told him producing less trash is better for the environment. “I like the environment,” he said, “but I don’t care about it.”
So maybe not everyone cares about the environment, a word which to me is inextricable from the future of the earth. Regardless, behaving in ways designed to protect and preserve the earth shouldn’t be optional. At this point, absent laws enforcing behaviors like composting, recycling, driving less and slashing electricity use, we’ve got to beef up the peer pressure. This is what I’m grasping at: a way to create peer pressure among Southwest students to recycle and compost – because it’s cool and doing a really good job of it will make our school a trend-setter. How to rally school spirit for the ROT (Reducing Our Trash) Team that’s as vigorous as spirit for the football team?