Local high school getting national attention for its recycling and composting efforts

Going green and getting rewarded, a local high school is gaining national attention for its recycling and composting efforts.

The project first when a teacher asked if they could get a couple of chickens to raise, a few years later, Eastside Memorial High School is being recognized for their efforts in sustainability. Ilya Shmulenson is the Director of Programs of Keep Austin Beautiful “For so often this school has been looked down upon and it was threatened with closure, and now over the course of just a couple of years not just academic success but success in bringing the community together through beautification and sustainability efforts,” he said.

Students ran an audit at the beginning of the 2015 school year, and found 82% of what was in landfill bins could have been recycled or composted. So faculty and students came together along with Keep Austin Beautiful and held an education campaign. Along with being educated on recycling, the students are raising chickens, and have multiple types of gardens. “The gardens, they're eating out of them, the chickens they are raising them, and that leads to careers and that leads to college and I think that’s incredible,” Shmulenson said.

Their eco-efforts are gaining attention. The school has been chosen as the 2016 Zero Waste Champions by Keep Austin Beautiful, and they are the first high school in Texas to be awarded the Eco-Schools USA Green Flag from the National Wildlife Federation. All of the efforts are paying off not just for the environment; Shmulenson said students are learning lifelong skills. “These are those hands on opportunities for students to learn about math and science and engineering and language arts and they're doing something in the meantime that has real life implications,” he said.