A budding future for Terrace

The Eco Club tackles recycling and litter on campus
A budding future for Terrace
LEAFING AN IMPACT. Seniors Elizabeth Carlson (left) and Emslie Kenall (right) and adviser Jennifer Archer (middle) plan out future projects at an Eco Club meeting on Feb. 22. Eco Club coordinates student activities to improve the environment, such as school-wide cleanups.
Trials and tribulations in the way of success

It’s hard to take a stroll through the Mountlake Terrace campus and not notice the litter strewn over the sidewalks and asphalt, let alone the weeds and debris overrunning the natural environment. Indeed, the issue affects all corners of the globe as new information about pollution, littering, and waste pop up on internet feeds. In the face of these issues, students in the Eco Club are actively working to make a change.

Eco Club helps to coordinate student actions and improve the local environment, all while spreading awareness of their cause. As senior and Eco Club president Emslie Kenall describes it, Eco Club is “a club where we’re basically trying to improve our school’s interaction with the environment. Currently this includes trying to implement recycling into [Terrace], because it hasn’t been happening.”

Eco Club’s efforts have been an uphill battle following the 2020 school closure due to COVID-19.

“After COVID, you know, it kind of went away,” Kenall said. “I think it was [my] sophomore year when there were quite a few people still in the club, but they were all seniors. It’s been a club for a long time, it just kind of hit a hard spot after COVID.”

After this dip in productivity during COVID, Eco Club has taken on several new projects and efforts. Eco Club has taken on a new campaign promoting recycling, advertising it through recycling posters throughout the hallways and classroom walls. Newly introduced recycling boxes have been slowly creeping their way into Terrace classrooms, providing a clear way to recycle the school’s most used resource: paper. “We wanted to get a box for paper only because that’s the main thing being wasted,” Kenall said.

According to CalRecycle, paper accounts for over 31.3% of schools’ overall waste. Further, it claims that while 80% of school waste is recyclable, just 20% ends up in the recycling bin, filling up landfills with waste that could have been recycled.

At MTHS, recycling bins are present in classrooms, but the contents of those bins get thrown in the dumpster along with food waste and classroom garbage.

Because these materials have been contaminated, items like paper and cardboard become non-recyclable. This is where Eco Club comes in.

“[The paper recycling boxes are] in like 10 classrooms now, but we’re going to try and put it in almost every classroom so that it’s easier. I think the issue is that recycling has been getting mixed up with [things] like food, so this way it will be more clear that just paper goes in here,” Kenall said. With one semester left at Terrace, Kenall’s goal has been to build a better recycling program. “That’s been an ongoing issue in our school and especially in our district and I think it would be really nice if I could leave the school and have a start to a system for that,” Kenall said.

Along with the recycling boxes, Eco Club has organized school-wide clean-ups. “We typically work with Key Club and National Honor Society (NHS) because they have a lot of people in their clubs,” Kenall said. “Because we’re so small and we meet on Thursdays, which kind of conflicts with TSA, we reach out to Key Club and NHS and try and get them to spread the word, and then we usually do it on a Wednesday to get more people.” These cleanups focus on outdoor student spaces and litter cleanup. “There’s almost always trash everywhere so I think when we’re able to pick it up, it’s nice for everyone,” Kenall said.

“I found an orange, a peeled orange, over there. Someone just bit into it and left it,” senior and Eco Club Secretary Elizabeth Carlson said, commenting on the waste found around Terrace. “Just so you know, when I found the orange, I picked all of it up, so that’s new.”

Eco Club also stewards Terrace’s lesser-known Naturescape and flagpole island at the front of the school.

LEAFING AN IMPACT. Seniors Elizabeth Carlson (left) and Emslie Kenall (right) and adviser Jennifer Archer (middle) plan out future projects at an Eco Club meeting on Feb. 22. Eco Club coordinates student activities to improve the environment, such as school-wide cleanups. (©HAWKEYE image credit: Efrata Solomon)
Recycling: Lots of work to do
Planting seeds for the future
IN BLOOM. Senior and club Vice President Annabelle Westby stands near the flower beds created by MTHS’s carpentry class. This collaboration is part of a wider trend among Eco Club to collaborate with larger clubs in order to organize service projects, such as Key Club and National Honor Society. (©HAWKEYE image credit: Efrata Solomon)

Walking around Terrace, it isn’t hard to spot litter. Soda cans, water bottles, chip bags and milk cartons all add to the list of potential environmental hazards. “The Naturescape was established in the ‘80s,” senior and club Vice President Annabelle Westby said. “It was intended to be an outdoor classroom, but it kind of just got neglected so it doesn’t serve that purpose anymore.

One of our main goals is to clean it up and restore it and plant native plants in it as well as pollinators.” Eco Club also removes invasive plants from the nature scape. The club has gone through the district’s process to remove invasive blackberry bushes around the area, providing a clear view of the natural scenery. “Beforehand, this whole [Naturescape] was just covered in weeds, and dead flowers, and mostly dead things,” Carlson said. “But then we weeded the entire thing.”

I think it’s important to know how to make change.

— Emslie Kenall

Eco Club’s efforts haven’t stopped at the Naturescape. In the beginning of the school year, the club underwent the effort of clearing the area surrounding Terrace’s flagpole to plant flower bulbs.

“We had a lot of people show up to do it so it went by pretty fast,” Westby said. “We’re trying to find more native bulbs as well so we weren’t invalidating our cause. We planted tulips, daffodils, and crocuses as well.” Eco Club also plans on growing plants out of flower beds made courtesy of Terrace’s carpentry class and the coordination of art teacher Nichole Mohs.

“We’ve been wanting to do something like reinhabiting the environment with more native plants, but it’s kind of hard because with Eco Club, you’re working alongside the landscapers so there’s a lot of permitting you have to go through in order to install them yourself.” Westby said. “[The flower beds are] our way of being able to plant things to help the environment without stepping on toes.”

Westby explained the club aims to grow “three native plants, three pollinators, and three of hopefully some kind of produce.” Produce (like basil and parsley) will be used by chef classes for their recipes.

Anyone can better the environment, no matter how impossible it may feel.

“Researching native plants, pollinating plants and putting them in nature, carrying a little bag with you to pick up trash, etc [are all ways students here at MTHS can make a difference],” Westby said.

Eco Club meets on Thursdays after school from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in room 123. Eco Club announces school-wide cleanup dates and other events people can contribute to on their Instagram page, @mths.ecoclub, where volunteer hours are offered. The club is advised by science teacher Jennifer Archer.

HAWKEYE POLL: Litter on Campus

What do YOU think? Take our poll about litter on campus and share your thoughts and ideas. When seeing discarded lunch paper boats, soda cans, and Ziploc bags on the ground, how does that affect your wellbeing? Scan the QR code and speak out!


Revisiting the Nature Scape
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About the Contributors
Jakob Nacanaynay
Jakob Nacanaynay, Hawkeye Staff
Jakob Nacanaynay initially joined HSM to be more involved in the MTHS community and express his opinions. As a member of HSM, he most enjoys learning about different perspectives that stray from the mainstream. Jakob is also an officer of the TSA club, participating in events from video game design to debate. He also enjoys competing in cybersecurity competitions with friends. While he has a wide range of interests, he finds the communication and organization skills learned in journalism transfer well. After high school, he plans on attending a major university to study cybersecurity.
Lucas Barquin
Lucas Barquin, Op/Ed Editor
Lucas Barquin joined HSM because he enjoyed writing and wanted to join a group where he could continue writing with others. Lucas’ goal is to write about important topics, and to make every student feel seen and heard. In his free time Lucas enjoys drawing, listening to music and playing D&D. His post high school plans are to attend an art school for graphic design and illustration.
Efrata Solomon
Efrata Solomon, Photo Editor
Photo Editor Efrata Solomon is a junior at MTHS and in her second year of journalism. She joined journalism in order to engage more with school activities and find a community of like-minded people, as well as learn about newspaper production. Outside of journalism, Efrata hopes to pursue a career in forensic biotechnology to exonerate those wrongfully convicted. She also participates in TSA, HOSA, Girls Who Code, orchestra and NHS, and her hobbies include completing puzzles, reading, hiking, going to local concerts, thrifting, and spending her money on overpriced boba.
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