Does WJ recycle?

A look into WJ’s recycling habits

Sloane Morra

More stories from Sloane Morra


Graphic by Sloane Morra

Only a small portion of WJ students regularly see fellow students using recycling bins.

In the rush of the school day, the idea of carefully sorting and recycling their trash barely crosses students’ minds. As lunch winds down, students are faced with the difficult decision whether to sort their plastic bottles and soda cans into the nearest recycling bin or have a few more minutes to chat with friends.

Freshman James Phillips is among a large group of people who see their peers choosing the second option and completely disregarding where they put their food waste and trash.

“I rarely ever see people using the recycling bins stationed around school, but when I have seen people using them, I’ve watched them put food in the recycling bins,” Phillips said.

In a poll taken by 100 WJ students about how often they see another student throwing food into recycling bins, 26 percent said often, 45 percent said sometimes, 24 percent said rarely, and only 5 percent said never. When food is thrown into a recycling bin, it contaminates the other products that are inside the bin already, and therefore that batch cannot be recycled and reused. The whole bin becomes trash\; counteracting the purpose of recycling: reduce waste, help prevent pollution and conserve natural resources.

The School Energy and Recycling Team’s manager, John Meyer lll, sees many student and school mistakes when it comes to recycling.

“Some of the biggest mistakes I see are putting trash in the recycling bin. Not only does this contaminate your school recycling but it could hurt the whole load.,” Meyer said.

Many students feel passionately about the need for students to adhere to the recycling rules set in place.

“Recycling is so easy, it’s one extra step in throwing away your trash, and it only takes about ten seconds. Recycling makes such a big difference in helping to keep our earth clean, so I don’t understand why people would not want to do it. It makes me mad when I see people showing no regard for where they are putting their trash,” junior Sophia Abedellatif said.

According to the School Energy and Recycling Team, (SERT) of MCPS’s Recycling Data Report, Walter Johnson High School is 1.12 pounds below the average high school PPP (pounds per person for recycling. WJ also does not rank in the top 10 schools in the county for recycling.

“In the school year, 2018-2019 Walter Johnson rank 13th out of 26 high schools,” Meyer said.