Madison West Green Club

The experiences of the Green Club at Madison West High School in Madison, Wisconsin as we green our school and community. Join us on our journey to sustainability!

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Alrighty  – I’ve been snapping pictures of effective recycling centers, so I’m going to post them all here, and we can have a discussion about why/how they’re effective during our next meeting. Additionally, think about how we can model this at West, so that we don’t have mixed recycling/garbage in every single recycling or garbage bin.

This was taken at a café in Chicago. Look how people actually respected the signs:


The street recycling system in Chicago. Note the specialized holes for each item in the recycling bin, and how people have to push a flap to throw stuff out (aka it’s easier to recycle your can than throw it out)

Here’s the recycling center at Whole Foods in Madison. We’re 80 percent of the way there to having a similar set up in our West High LMC Recycling Center.


Here’s the trash system at Whole Foods in Madison. Note how they have pictures, descriptions, and even EXAMPLES of what you can throw out in each bin. People respected the signs here too!


Based off what you see here, what do you think we should take from these successful recycling systems and implement at West? Either comment with your ideas here, post it on the Facebook page, email me, or bring it to our next meeting!

I enjoyed taking all of these pictures! Perhaps I’ll also do a post with unsuccessful systems – or post pictures of how our school’s current “recycling” system is a failure and how we’re going to fix it.



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11/9 Meeting Summary

Brief Announcement: Our group today was exceptionally small. Weekly attendance is becoming a pretty big issue. If we want to accomplish things as a group, people really need to show up and do their part!

1) We watched the following video

2) We determined the bins that we are going to buy for our LMC recycling project and wrote a grant proposal to obtain the money to purchase the bins. You can check our the bins by clicking on this.

  • Bins are 100% recycled and stackable (so they don’t take up too much space in the LMC)
  • Relatively inexpensive for their durability; plus, they will generate income through West Green Club’s partnership with a local recycling organization
  • Our recycling center will have components for cell phone recycling, ink cartridge recycling, battery recycling, plastic bag recycling, pencil/pen recycling, and an undecided last one. Please comment, post an idea on our Facebook group, or send us an email with ideas!

3) Explored the Terracycle Website and looked at what we can do with the items that they collect


On a more reflective note, I just wanted to share some knowledge that I learned today. My biology class is currently studying animal behavior – especially in primates. We had the opportunity of going to the Henry Vilas Zoo today and observed the orangutans and chimpanzees enter their exhibits immediately after the zoo keeper had set up their enrichment. We also had a really interesting question and answer session with the zoo keeper.

While observing the chimpanzees (there were three in the exhibit), two were looking especially depressed and exhibiting “stereotypic behaviors,” such as rocking back & forth and sucking a finger. Stereotypic behaviors generally mean that the animal isn’t doing well psychologically. We asked the zoo keeper about it, and she told us that the chimps had been kept as pets when they were younger. Instead of learning how to be chimps, they learned how to be humans. After being rescued and put in a proper “chimp”environment, they became very unhappy and depressed, because they felt they belonged on the other side of the glass. The zoo keeper told us not to purchase items with baby chimp/orangutan/monkey pictures, because these animal models have  generally had an earlier life as a pet. After they mature and lose their cuteness (around age eight), they are abandoned and mistreated – and often picked up by zoos. After all, these organisms have a life span of around 50 years in captivity. Even though a zoo will care for the animal, it’ll live for another 42 years. In misery.

Sevahn Vorperian

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Just wanted to announce that there will be a pen/pencil addition to the LMC recycling center soon, so start saving and collecting your retired pencils and dead pens (there will be announcements, posters, and posts on this blog when it’s officially started)! Here’s a picture of what I’ve collected in the past two weeks:

To-be-recycled pens!

To-be-recycled pens!

Things got so crazy on my end that I haven’t found time to post meeting notes from the last few meetings. I promise to resume posting summaries starting this Friday.

Feel free to send me or Amy an email if you have ideas or questions!

Sevahn Vorperian

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9/21 Meeting Summary

We had an excellent and productive second meeting. There were many returnees from last week – hurrah! Please be sure to continue attending meetings; the more you come, the more we get done, and the more fun it is for everyone!

9/21 Agenda

1) Finished Mission Statement work

  • “The Madison West Green Club aims to green our school, our local community, and ourselves.”
  • It’s hard to finalize mission statements; we’ll probably keep playing with this for the next few weeks.

2) Introduced the Committees (Recycling, Outreach, Composting, and Bike Mile Challenge)

3) Broke off into Committees and met as groups


  • Discussed how we can get bins for the LMC – UW SWAP Program?
  • Discussed West recycling rumor (that items in recycling bins are going into the garbage)
    • EDIT: The rumor that West High doesn’t recycle anymore due to budget cuts has been debunked officially! West has NOT terminated its recycling policy, and will continue to separate waste and recycled materials. However, when Green Club examined West’s trash vs. recycling bin content, we did notice an alarming amount of non-recyclable materials in the recycling bin. (For example, Hallie noticed that in many recycling bins, people had placed non-empty soda bottles; the soda ended up spilling into the bin and, thus, prevented the entire recycling sample from being recycled.) We urge all to recycle responsibly!
  • Created list of items that we want to recycle (batteries, cell phones, ink cartridges, newspaper, pens/pencils, newspapers)
  • Decided to make “what we can recycle” and “what we can’t recycle” lists for school recycling bins


  • Discussed visiting local elementary and middle school after school programs and working with their green clubs (if they have one) or helping set up one
  • Created list of ideas to help young students with their respective People.Power.Planet (and other green) projects


  • The compost group is working on research to get this project up and running. The following projects were assigned to people: compost bin price and MMSD policies on composting.

Bike Mile Challenge

  • Discussed methods to improve project logistics (such as waterproof numbered bike stickers to more easily and efficiently track Bike Mile Challenge participants)

Projected 9/28 Agenda:

  • Talk about group contributions/communication
  • Committees report on work done
  • Committee work


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9/14 Meeting Summary

After much pondering about what would be the most effective way to communicate, we decided to post our Friday meeting summaries here. Not only will they be easier to access, but they will also be public – so everyone can reach out to us with feedback!

Our first meeting was fantastic; we had an excellent turnout! It was  great to see so many new (and returning) faces, but most importantly, a ton of energy and many ideas! We are so excited for this year – we definitely have the capacity to accomplish a ton and make a big impact on our local communities (whether it’s inside or outside West High School).

9/14 Agenda:

1) Introduction

  • Mr. Grady, head advisor
  • Amy and Sevahn, president and vice president

2) 2011-12 Accomplishments

  • Click here to see the PowerPoint!

3) Brainstormed the projects we want to carry out this year. Here’s what we brainstormed (no, we’re not doing all of this!):

  • Green our school
  • Spread awareness about West’s green activities to community
  • Incorporate community (not just including West)
  • Collaborate with local organizations such as Sustain Dane and Citizens Climate Lobby
  • Spread awareness about environmental and climate change issues in general
  • Get local small businesses involved
  • Write grants to fund solar panels and other potential projects
  • Acquire powerful hand dryers and install in West bathrooms
  • Compost
  • Have more clean-up/trash pick-up days
  • Establish better-labeled trash/recycling bins
    • Contact waste management
  • Green lunch room (replace plates, have fresher food options)
  • Build a rooftop garden
  • Offset carbon expenditure
  • Pursue Madison Metropolitan School District funding for our projects
  • Establish committees to work on specific projects; ideas include:
    • Outreach
    • Recycling
    • Composting
    • Grant
    • Energy Conservation/Renewable Energy

4) Discussed mission statement ideas and goals

Projected 9/21 agenda:

1) Finish up the mission statement

2) Form committees and start outlining work in groups
That’s all for now! Feel free to email us with questions or ideas. See you on Friday!

Sevahn Vorperian:
Amy Hua: