Green is the new black at Trinity

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Did you see the beautiful full moon Saturday night? Have you noticed the chartreuse green leaves on all the trees in Natchez? Did you see the brilliant blue birds? With the news of the rising water, have you gone to look at the mighty Mississippi River or one of the magnificent sunsets over it? Have you planted your tomatoes, squash and okra, in the pungent earth?

Walt Whitman wrote: “After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, … and so on — I have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains.”

Several months ago I was thinking about a new assignment for my Web page class. I have been noticing a barrage of articles in newspapers and magazines written about hybrid cars, natural cleaning products, recycling and other environmental issues.

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In this Sunday’s issue of The Natchez Democrat, for example, there was an entire flier from Stine’s on all the products they sell that conserve energy and valuable resources. After my Web page students have spent the entire year designing Web sites for English and science topics, they began to undertake a conservation topic relevant to the world we live in.

Every student did research and developed their Web sites. They learned that it takes hundreds of years for plastics and aluminum cans to break down in a landfill. They researched biofuels, energy conservation and the many ways to recycle. Because I was so proud of the work they have done, there is now an Earth Day 2008 link and an Earth Day countdown clock on the Trinity School homepage.

We learned a lot about recycling and waste disposal in the Natchez area. Jim Funderburg, head of Plantation Oaks Landfill, took my students on a tour of his facility and explained how garbage produces methane gas which can be reused for fuel.

John and Stephanie Andrews of Andrews Metals demonstrated how they accept old batteries, cars, copper and other metals and ship them for recycling purposes.

At Office Depot, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart, we found many earth-friendly products that do not contain ingredients harmful to the planet.

Marsha Colson, of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, gave a talk on recycling, and she discussed the CSL light bulbs and reusable shopping bags.

We also discovered that Natchez needs a recycling program.

The only place we could find that accept empty metal cans is Andrews Metals. Also, Wal-Mart will accept empty plastic bottles and newspapers.

Today is Earth Day, and with the help of the GCA Conservation Committee, the students are designing an artful display promoting the value of conservation in our lives. The computer class will be displaying energy- saving products used for household cleaning, carrot based shampoos, dishwasher soap and T-shirts with the slogan “Save trees, eliminate homework,” recycled paper products, reusable bags and energy saving light bulbs. Also, there will be recycling methods and earth-friendly fact information given out to the students. We already have a recycling program at school where we take used ink cartridges, laser cartridges and cell phones. In addition, the class members will be wearing green T-shirts with the appropriate message “Green is the new black.” Starting at 8 a.m., teachers and students can register for door prizes which are on display. A drawing will be at the end of the day.

Beside the display, the students will pass out 200 coloring books and doorknob hangers about promoting recycling and helping the environment to the elementary students. Also planned is the planting of a tree with a prayer blessing for the earth by Father Brandt at 9:30 a.m. that day. Annette Holder, conservation chairman, and Sherry Jones, president of PGCA, will give a report to the computer class at 12:30 p.m. on their recent trip to the National Conservation Meeting in Washington, D.C. They hope to encourage the students to get involved in conservation efforts dear to their organization and important to everyone’s future quality of life.

The rest of this week, the students have daily announcements in the high school regarding conservation and the high school bulletin board will also display worthy information. All of this is the result of contributions from some local merchants, monetary support from the PGCA and leg work by the Conservation Committee and some great local Trinity School students.

It is overwhelming to think about the many things we all can do to be kind to Mother Earth. However, I challenge you to adopt one or two things in your life this year. At our house, we are trying the CFL light bulbs and unplugging all electric appliances when not in use. I am determined to take the reusable bags shopping also. Hopefully, by working together we can greatly reduce our negative impact on our earth.

Claudia J. STEPHENS is the IT director and computer teacher at Trinity Episcopal Day School.