Trashing CHS: a litter of inconsiderate peers


Carrie Anne Little

The littering sign outside of the library facing Indian Hill

It’s a grim scene. School lunch trays left stacked all over the stairs, completely abandoned. Some of the trays are blown across the center quad while others are held down by the uneaten apple slices and packaged broccoli stalk. The conveniently placed trash cans ignored. Students are standing around talking to one another, having entirely moved on from their meals. Then the bell rings. Students, engaged in their conversations, slowly meander to class forgetting their lunch trash.
This happens day in and day out, year after year on the CHS campus. Thousands of pieces of plastic are used during lunch: some will be thrown away, others will escape into the wind, while still others will be left for custodians to be picked up at the end of lunch. With the whole campus open for lunch, trash covers the ground, collecting in every single quad, hallway, and grass patch between buildings. Proctor Mrs. Safely and campus monitor Mr. Ramirez estimate that their custodial counterparts spend at least an hour each day returning the campus to its pre-lunch cleanliness. And it is time-consuming to rid a 20 acre campus of trash, when the collective student body could come together and remedy the problem in mere minutes.
One ninth grader sees trash scattered across campus particularly in the hallways every single day, and it does not make her happy, “It’s sad because I know that litter goes to the ocean sometimes and there’s that whole pollution in the ocean and animals die from it,” she said, “so seeing it around campus makes me think of that and that’s really sad. “While it may seem like common sense to some to throw away what you will not use again, this idea is clearly not reflected across campus. The only tool used to dissuade littering is a small sign in the central quad facing the library that threatens a $250 fine for anyone caught littering. When asked about it, the campus proctors expressed that enforcement of the fine has been halted, but that they would be happy to reinstate the law for the health and safety of the campus. For the time being, the proctor’s work in combating the mass of litter is reminding everyone to pick up their trash and staying vigilant for those who miss the trash can or purposely litter. But the fact of the matter is it’s not their job.
The message that keeping CHS campus clean is a task shared by the entire school, is shared few and far between. Understanding that the student body is easily distracted, a slew of constant reminders in the form of posters, weekly announcements in the Wolfcast, and more signs scattered around campus, could be put in place to remind the student body that CHS is a shared space and there is a shared responsibility to keep it clean.
No one person or group of people is responsible for keeping our campus free of litter; it is the responsibility of everyone to maintain a clean and safe environment. No one should rely on someone else to clean up the mess. If it were not for the custodial staff, the school campus would be carpeted in trash in a matter of days. There would be no clear path to walk from class to class; instead, people would have to wade through waist, cut through jungles of junk, scramble through stacks of scraps, march through messes of muck. Everyone has to pitch in to prevent this impending dismal scene. Whether or not it is your trash, a little goes a long way in ridding the campus of its litter infestation. So if you happen to pass a piece of trash on your way to your next class, feel free to pick it up. If everyone works together, they can make the school a little bit prettier, and maybe keep the environment cleaner as well.