This year at Enterprise Week, I had the opportunity to find out exactly what high school students in Pasco, Washington think about the environment.

I was one of many mentors assigned to the Eco/Recycling division during Enterprise Week. Groups of students formed “consulting firms” to try and solve problems related to recycling or reducing our carbon footprint. Each group had to come up with a concept and present it to a panel of judges. They had to research the problem they chose, figure out funding, and work up an implementation plan.

Here’s what I learned from the students.

We need to up our game when it comes to environmental education.

Many of the recycling division groups had ideas for educating our community around recycling. One group came up with an idea for a recycling fair that would teach people what sorts of things they can recycle, as well as educating them about reusing certain items before disposing of them. The term “pre-cycling” is also being used more and more. Pre-cycling refers to thoughtful buying—either purchasing items made from recycled materials, or choosing to buy recyclable items instead of ones made from materials that cannot be recycled.

Our oceans are in serious trouble.

I’m linking the presentations at the bottom of this post. If you do look at the images and watch the videos in a couple of the eco-recycling presentations, you’ll see some fairly disturbing images of birds, turtles, and other animals in distress because of plastics in the ocean. An alarming amount of trash ends up in our oceans. The World Economic Forum http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_New_Plastics_Economy.pdf estimates that by 2050, plastics will outweigh fish in the ocean.

We need to break old habits.

Even something as small as a plastic straw can have a drastic effect on the environment—in the United States alone we use 500 million of them per day. Plastic drinking straws can be replaced by biodegradable paper straws or with reusable straws made from silicone, stainless steel, or bamboo.

And that’s just straws… what else can we do in our day-to-day lives to help improve the earth?


Earth Day is April 22nd. Use it as an opportunity to educate friends and family, help reduce the burden on the planet’s oceans, and replace bad habits with healthier ones.

If you want to check out some of the students’ presentations (from all divisions), you can find them here!

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