Riverside’s Environmental club has many initiatives as it focuses to help reduce the school’s impact on the environment. One such initiative is to prevent battery waste and improve upon the battery recycling program.
Riverside’s battery use is similar in many schools across the district. That use adds up to a lot of batteries, and a recycling program along with proper battery testing is important to reduce what goes into the landfill, which, if not done correctly, is very bad for the environment. Recycling facilities break them down into raw materials to be used again to make new batteries.
Social studies teacher and the founder of the environmental club, Mr. Brian Chan and a grade 12 student Ethan Fukuhara, who has been in the environmental club for four years now, are busy building awareness around battery use, primarily the high waste associated with their use, and why it’s better to move to rechargeable batteries. Fukuhara has said that recycling batteries is good, but even recycling batteries can be wasteful. Chan has said that he tests all the batteries before he recycles them, so if there are any batteries that still have enough charge in them to keep using, he puts those back into circulation. Chan has noticed that 50% of the batteries he tests, which are supposedly empty, still have enough power in them to put back into an electrical device. “Let’s say that if you have a flashlight that has three AAA batteries in it, and once it stops working you replace the batteries and get rid of all three, but two of them could still work and it only takes one battery to be dead to stop the flashlight from working,” said Chan. Chan tests all the batteries he receives before taking them to a recycling depot to avoid recycling any batteries that are still good. “If you drink coffee every day, that’s one cup a day or 365 coffee cups in a year. We have millions of people in Canada that drink coffee every year and those small changes have rippling impacts that are compounded. ”
– Ethan Fukuhara
“If you drink coffee every day, that’s one cup a day or 365 coffee cups in a year. We have millions of people in Canada that drink coffee every year and those small changes have rippling impacts that are compounded. ”
Fukuhara passion for taking care of the environment and taking small steps to recycle our everyday items is evident. “The little things matter. Because if you make one small switch in your day, for example, if you drink coffee every day, that’s one cup a day or 365 coffee cups in a year. We have millions of people in Canada that drink coffee every year and those small changes have rippling impacts that are compounded. Even if you don’t think about it at the time,” said Fukuhara. This example shows that even if someone starts recycling one small thing, or just adds a good habit into their daily schedule, that could help the environment immensely.
Fukuhara is hoping that once Riverside staff uses up all the disposable batteries, the school will start adding rechargeable batteries into circulation by getting chargers and rechargeable batteries. Fukuhara eventually wants to have every teacher equipped with a battery charger and a bunch of rechargeable batteries that should be able to be used hundreds of times before having to recycle those too.
As Earth Day on April 22 approaches, everyone needs to be reminded to do their part, even if it is a small action. Stay tuned for Riverside’s Earth Day activities.