Green Team: Creating a Biodegradable Environment at Francis Lewis

Francis Lewis is becoming a Zero Waste Pledge school by implementing a new club called the Green Team. Started by students Kristin Lin, Vivian Lee and Danielle Luk, the Green Team is a recycling program that is devoted to having an increasingly biodegradable environment at Francis Lewis. 

“When junior year came around and we had the opportunity to [create] a club, we decided why not take matters into our own hands and recycle,” Green Team President Kristin Lin said.  “With the help of  Ms. Wenk and Ms. Whitney, we were able to get a grant and get recycling bins for the school.”

“Now, we’re focusing our energy on getting the school to recycle, which is much bigger than we ever expected,” Green Team Co-Vice President Danielle Luk said. 

The first steps of the Green Team is to have recyclable stations on the first floor and green bins on the third floor.  The club will weigh paper being recycled to record progress throughout the school year. The plan will reinvent the way Francis Lewis manages waste as there will be an increase of bins for different uses. 

“We have a station in the cafeteria,” Luk said. “Those stations have regular trash, a bin for paper, and recyclables.” 

“We are still working on getting the whole school to recycle,” Lin said. “Since our school population is so big it can be difficult. We are taking small steps.”

The Green Team has strict rules for what goes in what bin.  Additionally, there is a new bin for mixed paper so it can be re-purposed.

“We started implementing green bins for paper around the third floor, every classroom and also in department [offices],” Luk said. “Those bins are strictly for paper; no tissues, no napkins. We [want] to be successful in that first before we put those bins in every classroom.”

Teachers think that the program is very much needed at Francis Lewis and it will serve as a valuable lesson for both students and faculty. 

“I fully support the paper recycling initiative that was recently implemented at Lewis,” Francis Lewis teacher Ms. Miller said.  “It’s a good start because our school goes through an inordinate amount of paper. It undoubtedly helps students and staff become more aware of how much waste they produce and to take better personal responsibility for reducing their carbon footprint.”

Luk and her team are starting to see a change in classrooms and departments when it comes to the implementation of their club and its tools.  Efforts will continue with the support they have been seeing from faculty and students. 

“I find that a lot of the departments and classrooms are starting to use the bins, which is very – It makes me very happy that people are actually you know, going through with this,” Luk said. “A lot of teachers gave us really nice feedback. They loved it, they loved the idea of it, and it was really inspiring that they supported us so much.” 

Other city schools, such as Forest Hills, have a Green Team of their own and they are seeing a difference in their school since the program was implemented. 

“The trash cans are now separated into what needs and does not need to be recycled,” Forest Hills junior Jessica Kozinets said. “It raises awareness around the school so people are more conscious of where they throw their trash.” 

Not only does the Green Team help the environment by changing Francis Lewis’ recycling program, it also takes small steps in upcycling as well. 

“Green Team also does upcycling activities like [making] scrunchies from old fabric and next week we are making self watering plants from plastic bottles,” Lin said.