On February 8, 2018 Alhambra High Earth Team gathered back in the classroom to collaborate and set goals and actions for the months to come. The team has been tasked with raising awareness about the effects of litter in the Rumrill Blvd communities of Richmond and San Pablo, raising awareness about the effects of litter on their own campus, and reducing the amount litter found on Rumrill Blvd. To date Interns have removed 3,223 pieces of litter from three hotspots along Rumrill Blvd. They have a goal of 10,000 pieces by the end of the school year and are on track to accomplish this.
In regards to community and on campus outreach the interns spent hours brainstorming outputs and activities for the semester that could help them reach these outcomes. They are currently preparing for an upcoming community input event on February 24th and a large community Earth Day event on April 21st as means to spread the word about their project goals and gain local advice on “next steps” to take to shift social norms away from littering. The team also came up with several interactive events that could be done on campus to raise awareness including a litter scavenger hunt, campus chalk art and in class or in club presentations and collaboration.
Alhambra high never ceases to amaze when it comes to team work and planning and we are looking forward to a very productive and exciting semester.
“I’ve learned a lot about how much trash actually affects our earth and a lot more about cigarette butts. People might know that they pollute water and the earth, but I never knew they add chemicals and other toxins that can leech out into the water. I never realized how many were being littered either.
I wasn’t expecting to get so in to this internship. Once I really started getting involved and learning things I actually love our litter weekly meetings and our monthly events, it’s so much fun.
My favorite event was the Wanlass Park tree planting (pictured above) because I had a lot of fun working with other schools and actually making an immediate and direct impact on the earth. I also liked the pizza and playing with children at the park afterwards. Everyone got into and we were all tired and dirty and hungry and having a blast. I will never forget that day it was so much fun.
Being in a leadership role for the second semester doesn’t feel very different. I do feel like having more knowledge about our project puts me in sort of a more influential position though, like a role model. I am going to sign up next year, so I hope we can keep working on Rumrill and next year go back and see if we made difference.” -Autumn
After a much deserved winter break, Alhambra Earth Team interns returned to Rumrill Blvd. for their first litter assessment of the semester. Using the Marine Debris Tracker the team was able to track all the litter collected by GPS and categorize it by type of litter. The Marine Debris Tracker places collected trash into one of 8 categories: Plastic, Metal, Glass, Rubber, Cloth, Paper and Lumber, Fishing Gear, and Other Items. Returning interns took the lead guiding new interns through the litter assessment protocols and teaching them the walking patterns that they developed in the previous months. In just 30 mins the team collectively logged and removed nearly 800 pieces of trash from the site.
Several community members stopped the students with questions about their work which returning interns were more than happy to answer. New interns were thrilled with their first experience giving back to the community and protecting the bay.
On January 11, 2018 Earth Team Program Associate Joelle Alley traveled to Alhambra Hight to present to the Earth Team about the research she had collected regarding the effects of cigarette waste on aquatic environments. Based off this research Earth Team staff developed an easy to use calculator that simulates the amounts of the top ten heavy metals found in cigarette waste for a specific number of cigarette butts.
Earth Team interns will use this tool to calculate the amount of heavy metals the have prevented from reaching the Bay through their litter assessments. Just last semester Earth Team prevented nearly 3,000 cigarette butts from reach the waters of the Bay.
Interns spent the remainder of the meeting experimenting with the calculator a researching the effects of the heavy metals. Here is what several interns had to say about research:
“I learned how to solve problems by getting the necessary research done and by getting help from my peers”. -Dhzyia
“I learned that in order to solve a problem you have to look further into it then what you see immediately. Like with cigarette waste and the heavy metals in them. The cigarette butts aren’t the only issue, you ave to look farther into it and see that even the way the metals are mined is damaging to the environment”. -Madison