Mariemont Recycling Rumors


A few weeks ago, I walked into journalism class eating an almost empty bag of Skyline crackers.

As I funnel the last bits of salt and cracker dust into my mouth directly from the crinkly plastic bag, I make my way to the garbage can. I toss the plastic bag into the brown trash bin.

As I turn my back and walk away, I realized that I just put plastic into the garbage can. My conscience told me this was wrong, and that I should have put it in the recycling bin.

I walked back over to the garbage, and moved the plastic Skyline cracker bag into the recycling.

At this point, Warpath Senior Editor in Chief Logan Campbell had walked into the classroom, and he said: “There’s no point in moving it to the recycling. Mariemont doe-”

“What are you trying to say Logan?” I cut him off. “That you hate this Earth and want to see it overrun by landfills?”

“No Owen, it’s just,–” Logan rubbed his forehead, hiding his face behind his nervous fingers. “Mariemont doesn’t recycle.”

How did he know? Does everyone know? Am I just now finding out about this? Why hasn’t anyone done anything to change this?

I needed answers.

The cardboard box under Commins’s desk; perhaps it is a metaphor for the underground recycling rebellion we have here at the high school. PHOTO BY DINGLE

The rumors that Mariemont doesn’t recycle have been circulating through the school for years now.

“I actually knew about it,” said junior Jake Perkins. “Mr. Weiss talked about it once in his class last year. He said it was one of those problems that are really hard to fix.”

Mr. Weiss wasn’t the only teacher who knew about the recycling rumors. Mr. Commins, who has been at the high school for less than 4 years, also knew about the issue, and has come up with his own personal solution.

“Yeah I keep this box here under my desk for my paper and recycling,” Commins said.

“I know if I throw paper in the blue bin, the cleaning service will throw it in the garbage.”

Commins flexes the environmentally conscientious decisions he has made in his classroom. (PHOTO BY DINGLE)

Knowing that teachers have taken matters into their own hands made the rumors seem very real. However, Weiss and Commins weren’t the first teachers to do something about it.

Three years ago a science teacher at Mariemont High School retired. Her name was Rene Dierker. She taught freshman biology and astronomy for over 20 years, and was a loved member by the school community.

Mrs. Dierker was the adviser of the Environmental Club–a club that no longer exists at the high school.

The Environmental Club was a club for students to connect and discuss environmental issues, such as recycling. The club was known by the staff and students to enthusiastically advocate our school’s recycling program.

“Well, I don’t remember much about Environmental Club,” said Mr. Miller, math and computer science teacher at the high school. “But I do remember every Friday they would make an announcement (over the PA) to ask teachers to put their recycling bins either by their doors, or outside their doors, and they just come by and get it, and they return it, and everybody felt good.”

Once a week after school, Environmental Club members would assemble together to go around to every classroom and collect the blue recycling bins, and transfer the contents to the Rumpke recycling dumpster located in the back of the school.

“Mrs. Dierker was the leader of the Environmental Club for years,” said Mrs. Colpi, one of our school’s librarians. “But by the tail end of her time here, the club was falling apart. There weren’t enough club members to get things, and it got to the point that random students, who weren’t affiliated with the environmental club, would volunteer their after school time to emptying the recycling bins.”

The recycling bin outside – filled to the brim with large cardboard boxes. Perhaps the only group of people at Mariemont who recycle are the kitchen workers…?PHOTO BY DINGLE

Mrs. Dierker was still here when I was a freshman, and I vividly remember her asking me one day after school to help out with the recycling program. My friend Max Geers and I walked around the school for about 20 minutes emptying every teacher’s bins.

Should we have asked ourselves, “Why do students have to be the ones to empty the recycling? Would they otherwise go unemptied, or worse, put into the garbage bin?”

Last Wednesday, I stayed after school to interview some of the Scarlet and Gray employees to see if they could help me answer some of my questions.

I sought out the employee with the most familiar face: Andre. He was down by the pool when I asked him about the rumors.

“We do separate paper from the trash,” Andre said. “Inside and out.”

“Sometimes you’ll see one man go down the halls and only empty the trash (out of the classrooms) and let the recycling build up,” Andre said. “Then you might see two men go down, with two bins, emptying them both.”

I secretly followed one of his co-workers down the hallways of the math pod. I could see him enter each room with one custodian dolly, and then leave about 20 seconds after.

I hung around the classrooms until he was out of sight. I wanted to see if he had emptied the bins together, into a single unified garbage-recycling bag.

What I found next surprised me.

Math room 1. (PHOTO BY DINGLE)
Math room 2. (PHOTO BY DINGLE)
Math room 3. (PHOTO BY DINGLE)









The Scarlet and Gray employee I followed had gone around the classrooms and only emptied the garbage bin, leaving the recycling bin for a later disposal.

I wasn’t expecting this to be the case – there were so many rumors about Mariemont not recycling. Do these pictures prove Mariemont’s innocence?

I wanted to talk to another Scarlet and Gray employee before I made my final decision. I tracked down a man named Chase, who was standing by the half of fame bathroom when I ask him a few questions.

“I know when I throw away the recycling, I put it in a different can (than the garbage),” Chase said. “But when I first got hired here, they told me the Scarlet and Gray doesn’t handle recycling.”

Mariemont’s contract with Scarlet and Gray does not officially state that Scarlet and Gray is responsible for handling the recycling.

From what I know, the recycling at Mariemont depends on who is on the shift at Scarlet and Gray. If Chase is working, the recycling is likely to be put in the recycling bin. Other workers, on the other hand, may not be as thorough as Chase.

Is the fate of Mariemont’s recycling up to the shift manager at Scarlet and Gray?

Not necessarily. Over the past few weeks, a committee has formed through the Leadership Council.

The committee is dedicated to emptying all of the blue bins in the school, rather than leaving it up to chance with the Scarlet and Gray employees.

“Last year, Sarah Forbes brought this to our attention,” said senior Kaleigh Hollyday, an officer of the Leadership Council and the recycling committee. “We first tried to get the administration to do something about it, but we realized nothing was going to get done, so we took the matters into our own hands.”

“We started last week,” Hollyday said. “Each member has an assigned part of the school that they empty. We are doing it every Friday.”

Leaders of the recycling committee include:

  • Sarah Forbes
  • Kaleigh Hollyday
  • Jacob Mantle
  • Melanie Weiss
  • Abbie Kapcar
  • Grace Amlung
  • Olivia Walker
  • Macy Bruner
  • Lily Tetrault
  • Sydney Irwin

Mariemont High School is notorious for its ability to spread rumors like a wildfire. The rumors regarding our schools recycling program have been a topic of controversy for a while now.

I have now laid out all the facts that have been rooting the rumors at our school. The biggest conclusion I can draw from all of the information I have collected is that Mariemont is aware of the issue, and steps are being taken to propel our school in the right direction.

But it is not my job to tell you what to believe. Do you think our school is eco friendly?

Should Mariemont renegotiate the contract with Scarlet and Gray to formally include their handling of our recycling?

Are you doing everything you can to contribute to a healthy and environmentally friendly school?