Youth are the Future of Waste Diversion
By: Maya Encantada Meeks, CVT, RLAT, Division of Animal Resources
After a weekly drop off at the Emory Recycling Center, my child, a friend and I decided to take a hike down to the creek. While walking, we discovered that there is not direct access to the creek from Peavine Road, but continued our journey nonetheless. Along our adventure we discovered a plaque with the creek name and dedication “George Cooper Creek. The creek originates under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and runs into Peavine Creek near Asbury House, and was named for the longtime Emory coach and director of intramural sports.” The trail head revealed itself on Old Briarcliff Road and we followed it to George Cooper Creek. Along our way we noticed some litter. The kids were so focused on getting into the creek we avoided picking it up but promised ourselves we would gather it on our way out.
Upon arriving at the creek, the kids conducted their own assessment. Part of the children’s STEM curriculum at school is citizen science and monitoring water quality at a different local creek. The kids commented on the water clarity of the George Cooper Creek, the many living organisms, and the low number of mosquitos. We watched a crane/heron type bird hunt in the stream. There was a bit of a rotten fish smell, which the kids noted could be due to the pollution. But overall, their assessment was that the stream is healthy.
Nonetheless, the kids found litter in the creek, including a dog food bag, which they started filling it up with golf balls, cans, bottles, chip bags, fishing line, etc. Because most of the waste was light weight, the kids theorized that much of the trash in the creek blew in from the recycling center. Once everything was collected from the trail, the dog food bag was full, but most of the trash found could be recycled.
Through their elementary school the children learn about waste diversion, recycling, and repurposing. The school participates in an amazing waste diversion program through the county and CompostNow. At home we repurpose, recycle and compost. The kids have grown up with this as a way of life. Leaving the litter was not a choice. We were all in agreement that it is our duty to the planet to pick it up.
To see my child act in an environmentally conscience way makes me proud. I am so grateful for our elementary school and the sustainability initiatives on campus. These kids are our future and our future is bright.