It can be hard to keep up with Jesuit's busy and motivated Environmental Club these days, on or off campus.
For example, this past Friday, per usual, the club collected paper recyclables all across campus. Then on Saturday (Dec. 8), club members visited the Florida Learning Garden, a collaborative project of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful and the Florida State Fair Authority.
The garden is a one-acre fixture on the Florida State Fairgrounds that showcases sustainable agricultural techniques. Environmental Club members earned service hours by helping to maintain the garden while they learned new techniques for environmentally important procedures such as composting and water conservation.
Outreach programs involving Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful and other off-campus special events (such as the Hillsborough River & Coastal Clean-Up in September) supplement the club's weekly activity spearheading Jesuit's on-campus recycling.
"Our club mission is to learn about how we should interact with nature in a way that benefits us and preserves it," said Vindri Gajadhar, the Environmental Club moderator. "We try to better understand the relationship between us and the environment."
Founded in 2008, the Environmental Club has been taking care of Jesuit's fiber recycling (paper, cardboard, boxes, etc.) products for a decade. Club members meet after school on Fridays, grab the rolling green recycling bins, and are assigned a route to collect paper recyclables from around campus. On Mondays, they deposit the bins into giant dumpsters that a third party, Recycling Services of Florida, comes to collect.
(Pictured on the homepage making paper recycling collections in Gonzmart Hall on Dec. 7 are Brayden Hanrahan '21, Colin Lawrence '21, and Joey Aschenbrenner '21.)
Beginning this spring, in a partnership with the City of Tampa's Recycling Division, the club also now will be in charge of campus plastic recycling, with assistance from another Jesuit club, the G.O.O.N.S. The infrastructure for the plastic recycling has been established, and the club is working on a few key elements such as receptacle placements, education, and awareness.
A critical component of plastic recycling is depositing items correctly and without contaminants, such as food waste that hampers the recycling process. With this in mind, the Environmental Club recently attended a workshop led by Edgar Castro Tello, a recycling specialist and project scientist for Trileaf Corporation. Tello provided strategies for how to instruct others to recycle properly.
The club annually has about 20-25 members, and Gajadhar said membership is always open and anyone is free to join at any time. Among other things this spring, the club will assist with post-Gasparilla Parade cleanup, partake in the Great American Cleanup, make a return trip to the Florida Learning Garden, and possibly again assist with an oyster bar restoration project with Tampa Bay Watch.
"Every person deserves to live in a clean and healthy community," Gajadhar said. "Keeping our planet clean and green allows people to live healthier, happier lives, where they are able to enjoy the outdoors and truly appreciate God's creation. The Lord created this world and we are to care for these gifts He gave us."
Please view the slideshow below of the Environmental Club in action: