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The Sustainability Machine

Updated: Mar 13, 2019

By: Andy Shodell

PTS Falconer Staff

October 1, 2018


There are many different ‘gears’ in the machine of Palmer Trinity’s environmental sustainability; some gears are provided by teachers and students, while others came with the machine. Sometimes these gears do not fit well together. Palmer’s sustainability machine relies on the correct implementation of the gears in relation to each other -- they must spin in unison at the right places -- and the quality of the gears themselves.

The rusty gears must be replaced, and the misplaced ones corrected.


There has been hushed talk of the reality of Palmer Trinity’s sustainability management, and whispers of people seeing recycling bins and trash bins being combined and thrown together in trash bins. The reason that these voices are tampered is because the administrative aspect of sustainability at Palmer is not transparent. Many teachers have spent their own time and effort separating the contents of their classrooms’ trash and recycling bins in order to benefit the quality of recycling at Palmer, thereby serving an indescribably important role for the advancement of the community, and the Earth as a whole. This is the work that will secure future generations their inalienable right to live on an Earth that is not provoked to the point of washing away homes and other vital areas. The source of our current environmental crisis is people, and here at Palmer there are people working to counter our accumulating abuses of the environment.

Seeing the recycling thrown in the trash is disheartening.

In addition to teachers’ efforts for sustainability by encouraging proper waste disposal -- and even many hand-sorting through bins -- students have participated in the composting initiative while also being wary of how to recycle. Despite occasional predictable and normal mistakes such as incorrectly composting and recycling, students have proven that they can keep their eyes open and improve the quality of what is thrown in the composting and recycling bin. Eco Empowerment Week 2018 was a big success when students had informational signs clarifying what can/cannot go in the recycling and compost bins; the student body was noticeably attempting to be sustainable, and a similar implementation would help in the future. A few days after the end of Eco Empowerment Week, these signs mysteriously disappeared. The solution is transparency and a proactive approach.

The gears that were provided with the machine itself -- the part of sustainability held up by Palmer’s decision makers -- are currently not known to the student body or staff and faculty. The exception is Palmer’s maintenance team, who deserves immensely more appreciation for their role around school in maintaining our environment; the thought of Palmer without them is scary, and would ironically indicate the direction of the Earth as a whole with failure to maintain sustainability. This lack of transparency is the reason that conversations about sustainability with people in various positions in Palmer tend to end with more questions than answers, faculty and students alike. Frankly, the topic is surrounded by confusion. It is unacceptable that the sustainable front that we put up as a school may be in conflict with our practices.

The way to fix and realign our sustainability gears is to be clear about what truly happens; the student body, faculty and staff are filled with strong ideas and viable routes of action. The only way to tap into this is by being upfront with the reality of our sustainability. I hope that we are updated soon on the condition of the sustainability machine in order to fix and adjust our gears while the rest of Palmer Trinity acts in kind.

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