Reducing waste by increasing awareness: HISD holds Reduce, Reuse, Recycle training event

HISD facilities and maintenance staff and plant operators gathered at Barnett Stadium on Tuesday, April 12, to attend a training event hosted by HISD’s Energy and Sustainability Department in partnership with Republic Waste. The training included a slideshow moderated by Republic Services Operations Manager Fernando Cedillo, who presented simultaneously in English and in Spanish.

Cedillo took the trainees through the life cycle of a landfill, demonstrating why landfills aren’t a sustainable solution for waste disposal.

The slideshow went into detail about municipal waste and how many of the things that people regularly throw in the trash can be recycled. While HISD already encourages recycling, the processes for recycling certain materials require more steps and more prior knowledge. For some of the HISD staff members in attendance, the lesson was eye-opening.

“I learned what the different numbers on plastic recyclables mean,” said Loria Sublet, who works at the district police training center on Bertwood St. “I’d put all the recycling in one bag and say ‘they can separate the recycling when they get where they’re going.’ I didn’t realize [you weren’t supposed to].”

Some trainees raised questions about how they might engage the students and staff at their schools or facilities to follow the recycling guidelines they were learning about. Stephanie Walker with HISD’s Energy and Sustainability Department is in the process of organizing education opportunities—like Cedillo’s presentation—for students and staff that will help our plant operators lead the way in reducing the district’s carbon footprint.

“We are going to start with a pilot 20,” Walker said. “In that pilot 20, the campuses will identify a champion and that champion will directly communicate with me on what that campus needs in order to recycle. We want to get the kids involved to make it fun.”

When it comes to recycling, according to Cedillo, positive change is created with dedication and passion. “All it takes is a passion to do the work,” he said.

HISD is committed to giving its maintenance staff and plant operators the tools they need to make sustainable changes and take steps toward making a positive impact on the district and the Earth.

“We have the whole world in our hands,” said Walker. “Our theme is to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and we want to be a part of making a difference.”