This fall, a new school year at Fenn brought...old binders. Well, perhaps "old" is a misleading descriptor in this case—let's call them "gently used and still in pristine condition" three-ring binders!
Back in June of 2013, Fenn conducted its second annual Green Clean. The goal of this Green Clean was to divert perfectly good school supplies from the waste stream at the end of a school year. A recycling and reuse station was set up in the Old Gym, and boys dropped off their used paperback books, binders, folders, pencil cases, empty notebooks, and other supplies. Faculty helped make sure things that needed to be recycled got into the appropriate bins instead of just the trash cans. Items in excellent condition were stored over the summer (we have to make use of those big hockey lockers in the warm months!), and then brought back out on the first day of school in September. Boys—and faculty—were invited to swing by my room to help themselves to binders, folders, notebooks, and other things, rather than going out in the coming days to purchase brand new items.
The twelve boxes of supplies were completely gone within a week. The boys were so happy to have a place to pick up school supplies right in the middle of the day or during study hall—immediate organization and class preparedness! Moreover, boys were thrilled to put a big "REUSED" sticker on the front of their binder; they wanted other people to know that they were doing their part to reduce unnecessary consumption and disposal. Other boys who saved their own binders over the summer came in looking for "REUSED" stickers as well and stuck them on their "old" binders with pride!
The Green Clean was just one of the ways Fenn was taking a look at its contribution to the waste stream this summer. With the construction of the Jafari Library and the new Science center and the renovation of the Schoolhouse, Fenn had an opportunity to refresh some of its ill-fitting furniture and fixtures. However, Dave Dipersio, director of Facilities, hesitated to send much of it (which was still in good condition) to the landfill. He and I worked with IRN, a company based in Concord, NH, to find a school elsewhere that could use a donation of tables, chairs, cabinets, corkboards, and other educational equipment. IRN ended up getting all of our goods (about one-and-a-half tractor trailer loads!) to an all-boys' school in Kingston, Jamaica, in time for the start of their fall term.
While new technology can help us reduce our consumption, upcycle our goods, and live more sustainably in general, the Green Clean and furniture recycling events of 2013 have reminded Fenn boys, faculty, and staff that human behaviors and decisions are a necessary part of a sustainable existence.
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