It is apparent that there is an overabundance of litter on our campus, and this issue is not news at all. Ravens fighting over pizza, roaches searching for crumbs, milk cartons leaking— unfortunately, these sights are far too common for Wildcat Nation. Many school employees and student leaders are frustrated with this problem because it adds hours to their workload unnecessarily requiring only a change of campus culture to fix.
Sandra Alvarez, the Head Janitor for UHS, detailed her experience with litter on campus. Alvarez told us a large portion of her work hours are spent picking up trash saying, “let’s just say that half of my shift is focusing on garbage pick up all over campus bathrooms, the cafeteria, and outside areas.”
Julie Beer, the head of Ukiah High’s kitchen, spoke to the litter problem in the cafeteria which she is responsible for keeping clean. Beer is concerned with the optics of a dirty cafeteria saying, “it makes us look bad as parents come on campus for events.” When kitchen staff has to clean up students’ refuse, “it takes away from us being able to spend time on the food”, Beer pointed out. When the trash is left out, Beer feared, “It also invites pests to our campus.”
Mia Gittleman, the president of UHS’s Environmental Club, said plainly, “I really don’t like the amount of trash on campus.” She pointed out how “it would be so easy for someone to put their trash in one of the abundant trash cans we have on campus.” Gittleman encouraged Wildcats to start practicing leaving no trace and encouraging their friends to do so as well. “People just need to put their trash in the correct places. I think we should all focus on leaving a clean path behind us, even encourage our friends to pick up their trash too”.
To get our hands dirty and get a real sense of the problem, UHS News Staff organized an effort to clean up as much trash as they could in one class period. Student reporters combed campus and found rubbish out in the open, hidden away, and gathered the findings in the Tri.
Ukiah High Principal Gordon Oslund equated cleaning up after one’s self to being polite saying, “Litter is a lot like being polite. You know, maybe the two things we could do with little or no effort is managing our own litter or waste, and how polite we are.”
Mr. Oslund provided a step-by-step explanation of how simple it really is to clean up after one’s self. “When you’re done eating, you just grab it like a normal human being and you walk it over and throw it into the trash can. You’re the one that brought it there, you’re the one that touched it, and you’re the one disposing of it. You don’t even need to wash your hands when you’re done with it because it’s all about you.”
These simples steps, Mr. Oslund argued are “ little effort, it’s not complicated, but it’s powerful.”