One quick glance around the campus will prove that despite valiant efforts from the custodians, littering is a serious problem. How could so much trash just be thrown around when there are trash cans every few yards?
Head custodian, Joseph Raya, believes that the problem is in the students’ attitude.
“The students here have a real entitlement problem,” said Raya.
The custodians usually spend 10 to 15 hours a week cleaning up trash around campus. That’s more time than some sports practice per week. Food ends up on the ground, picnic tables, and the blacktop.
“[Trash] shouldn’t be thrown on the ground, it should be put in trash cans, that’s what they’re there for,” said Raya.
Custodians and students are in agreement that if their time wasn’t spent picking up trash they could do meaningful work to benefit the campus.
“I think students just don’t realize how the littering problem impacts the amount of time custodians have,” junior Mireia Pierce-Pique said. “If a custodian spends all their time picking up trash, they just won’t have time to do other things like clean classrooms.”
Some solutions have been suggested, such as a rewards or punishment system.
Vice Principal Matt Collier explains, “I think we must remind students that this is their school and that they need to take care of it like their home.”
Raya suggested a recycling program that benefits the school. Money earned by collecting bottles and cans could be used for various departments at the school. This idea, however, has already been implemented by the Rio Recycles Club established by senior Sami Koire.
Koire and the rest of the club placed recycling cans around campus and turn in cans and bottles for money to support campus programs.
The special ed class also collects recycling from classroom.
A system of consequences, instead of rewards, has also been suggested. If a student is caught littering on campus, the delinquent will be forced to take part in cleaning the campus at lunch.
Collier said “I’m a big fan of restorative justice, so having students assisting our custodians is another way to intervene with a student who has a problem with littering the campus.”
Raya agrees, “I think if somebody has seen littering, [the litterer] should be made to pick it up.”