E-club working to bring back recycling program after budget cuts


Kira Suerth

Mrs. Tonya Henke and her students are hoping to bring a new recycling dumpster to this spot above the Senior Lot.

Julia Adams, Staff Writer

Recycling will be much harder to do this school year, but the Bearden environmental club and AP environmental science classes are not giving up on their efforts yet.

The Knox County government’s solid waste department is no longer paying for recycling for Knox County Schools. Instead, the schools are expected to pay a $100 fee each month for their recycling dumpsters.

This means that Bearden students can no longer recycle paper because the recycling dumpster that was once provided by the company Spectrum has vanished.

In efforts to get back the paper recycling, Bearden science teacher Mrs. Tonya Henke has been working tirelessly to reinstate the recycling program at Bearden. Mrs. Henke has contacted multiple places including the school board, the county commissioner for Bearden’s school zone, and KCS’s maintenance branch to find a solution.

“They know how important it is, but right now the funding is not there and they are trying to work that out,” Mrs. Henke said. “It is up to our school right now to cover the cost of recycling until something more is worked out.”

Bearden currently still has a plastic and aluminum dumpster, but Mrs. Henke predicts these dumpsters will go away soon too, intensifying the recycling dilemma at Bearden.

Last semester, Bearden recycled a total of 2,746 pounds of paper and without a paper dumpster, that waste will now be placed in a landfill. This dilemma not only affects the sustainability efforts of the school, but also Mrs. Henke’s AP Environmental Science class. Previously in this class, students were responsible for Bearden’s recycling which was a lab  activity where students collected real world data, solved real world problems, and saw how much waste they prevented from going into a landfill.

“They can see the difference they’re making,” Mrs. Henke said. ”And right now, I’ve lost that ability with my students.”

In light of the current situation, Environmental Club president and senior Ismail Ouddi along with fellow E-club officer and senior Linus Cho are working together with other members of the club to resolve this dilemma.

“I want to [take] action now,” Cho said. “We have picked a date for a fundraiser at Blaze Pizza to raise money for the club and [proceeds] will be going towards the recycling fund that has been cut.”

The fundraiser at Blaze Pizza will take place on Sept. 20 from 5 to 9 p.m. Bearden students and the surrounding community can get involved by mentioning the recycling fundraiser when completing their purchase and a portion of the proceeds will be given to the club.

“I believe that we have a responsibility to care for our planet,” Ouddi said. “The environmental problems we are facing today are tough, but they can be fixed.”

Including the Blaze fundraiser, the club hopes to receive a grant from the PTSO and the Bearden foundation to help cover the recycling costs and afford some form of a new recycling dumpster.

“I don’t know if we can get the money, but I know we’re not going to stop until we do,” Mrs. Henke said.

The Environmental Club will continue to meet every Wednesday afternoon after school in Mrs. Henke’s room.