For my Junior year, I ended up taking AP Environmental Science! Although the class was originally an alternative, I am so excited I had the opportunity to be in the class. Not only did I get to focus on my love for the environment, but I also learned about the threats facing the earth and probable solutions.
One of our units in the fall focused on municipal solid waste management (aka trash). Instead of just looking at images and taking notes from slides, we got a first hand look at the amount of trash thrown away in our community. Our teacher organized a field trip to the Placer County Waste Management Authority (WPWMA).
In class, we were learning about sustainable living through recycling and composting, so, when we visited, we toured the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) section of WPWMA. Tours are free by appointment and are an incredible way to see the work and machinery that goes into trash management. I had a ton of fun exploring the “behind-the-scenes” of the facility!
We walked through the main trash sorting area, cardboard pile ups, compacted trash cubes, magnet based can sorting, loading trucks, and, my personal favorite, the composting piles. Compost is made of biodegradable, organic waste materials that decompose into soil with rich nutrients, but when it decomposes, the center of the piles can reach up to 120-70 degrees Fahrenheit! Our tour guide let us stick our hands into the pile to feel the heat a few inches into the pile where it’s a little cooler; super cool but super gross!
After attending this field trip and witnessing first hand how much trash is generated in my area, I felt guilty for how much I throw away, and so did the rest of my classmates. I decided to try and limit the amount of waste I create in terms of food, plastic bottles and straws, paper, and more!