I’m always buying things from students, but this year I’m trying to pick and choose the more sustainable options.
There are few. The best ones are experiences, of course — I paid for two students to go see an excellent production of The Importance of Being Earnest, I’ve bought some performance tickets, and second semester I expect to pay for some other field trips. Otherwise, though, I’m faced with pretty unhealthy and wasteful choices: fruit snacks, chips, popcorn, candy bars (weren’t those banned in California schools?).
But today I got one very cool item from our Marine Biology club. It’s a naturally-scented candle (okay, it’s kind of a waste since I only burn candles when the power goes out) made by the students in a glass cup wrapped with old biology overheads. We haven’t used overheads for a decade now, so the science department has been stuck with binders full of useless plastic overheads covering everything from phytoplankton to the human body. These transparencies were carefully adhered to the glass containers making for unique and interesting candles. Yes, it’s plastic, but it’s plastic that was bound for the landfill anyway — at least it will get a temporary second life as something beautiful.
The glass isn’t compromised, either; the seam holding the transparency on can be broken, and the transparency will come off, keeping the glass ready for reuse or recycling.
Perhaps most clever of all, the candles are packaged in old Scantrons. We dropped our contract with Scantron four or five years ago. The machines were taken, and we were left with thousands of scantron forms. It’s nice to see them get one last hurrah before they meet the recycle bin.
Kudos to you, Marine Biology students and teacher, for making a sustainable fundraiser I can enthusiastically support.