Saving the world one piece of paper at a time

As her collecting bin grew heavier with each stop, senior Joey Dobson struggled to make her way from classroom to classroom. Dobson, unlike many other students, spends her Wednesday afternoons collecting recyclable paper from each classroom at Ames High as part of her duties as a member of 100th Green Butterfly. 100th Green, sponsored by physics teacher Mike Lazere, is a student organization whose goal is to promote environmental awareness and earth-friendly living. Every Wednesday at 3:15 p.m., the group meets in room 48 to recycle the thousands of sheets of papers and newspapers that accumulate in classrooms during the previous week. Though this task may seem daunting to many, 100th Green members are up to challenge. “I joined 100th Green as a freshman since helping the environment seemed like a no-brainer way to spend my time,” Dobson said. “Since then, my desire to play a role in the preservation of our natural resources has only intensified.” “Wednesday afternoons have definitely become one of my favorite parts of the week,” senior Alice Hartzler added. “I get to help out the environment and snoop through other people’s stuff while recycling.” Though recycling may be the task most performed by 100th Green members, the group participates in many other activities around the Ames area. One such activity is their bi-annual highway cleanup of the two-mile adopted stretch of G.W. Carver Ave., which members clean twice a year by picking up trash laying alongside the highway. In addition, 100th Green also organizes the annual Battle of the Bands held at Ames High each spring, and donates the raised money toward a local environmental cause. This year, possible organizations to donate to include the Skunk River Navy and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The group has become involved in several new environmental activities during the past few months as well, including the Skunk River Navy, a “navy” in which students canoe down a few miles of the Skunk River picking up trash found in the water. Members also aim to spend more time with the Ames High Prairie, helping to restore the land to natural Iowa Prairie. Although these local efforts may not at once save the world, 100th Green members have stayed positive toward their contributions to the environment. “We maintain a general attitude that little things we do actually do add up,” Dobson said. “What we do sometimes seems small, so we try to remember that any lessening of waste is a positive step toward preserving our natural resources.” Though 100th Green members certainly stay busy, they do know how to reward themselves after a hard day of environmental activism. Each week, a member is assigned to bring treats for the group, and on every first Wednesday of the month, the students celebrate “taco day” and go out for tacos after recycling is complete. “Sometimes, I get really tired on Wednesday afternoon and am tempted to go home,” Hartzler said. “Then I remember that I’ll get great tasting treats if I go to 100th Green, and sometimes even tacos. That thought always drives me to go recycle.” Besides just tasty delicacies, the fun-loving, no-pressure atmosphere 100th Green meetings entail will make anyone excited about saving the planet. Instead of a single individual dominating the entire recycling process, it’s a hands-on experience in which all members participate, and this social aspect alone has made Wednesday afternoons a highlight for many involved. “The people in 100th Green are pretty cool,” senior Ege Inanc said. “There’s always lively and intellectual conversation between members while recycling.” “It’s always fun meeting with the upperclassmen,” freshman Deepak Premkumar added. “Helping out the environment is always good, too.” As of now, the only thing that could dampen the lively spirits of 100th Green members is the lack of underclassmen present at weekly meetings. “Our group is full of seniors, but includes very few underclassmen,” Dobson said. “We’re really trying to attract some younger members, but unless that happens, we could be nonexistent next year.” To the luck of many underclassmen, there is no difficult initiation process in order to become a part of 100th Green; instead, new members are always warmly welcomed into the organization. “I can guarantee that any new members will have several new friends as soon as they show up to recycle,” Dobson said. “I encourage anyone remotely interested in getting their hands dirty to save some trees to head down to room 48 Wednesdays after school. They might just be in for a pleasant surprise.”