This fall students and employees of Oak Mountain High School now have access to more than 100 recycling bins school-wide. It may seem like a fairly common initiative to launch a recycling program at school. Yet, in this particular case, it’s not necessarily the program itself that warrants recognition, but rather the fact that it was created solely by the efforts of one student. This is not your average recycling program, because it’s founder, Myrah Taylor isn’t your average high school student.
Since joining the Girl Scouts of America as a Brownie in her early childhood, Taylor has always been motivated by the organization’s “Leave No Trace Behind” motto. As a youngster, she first became involved with recycling efforts by collecting phone books in an effort to keep them from ending up in a landfill. Now a Senior Girl Scout, Taylor says she reached a point where she faced accepting the challenge of working toward the Girl Scout’s Gold Award. “It is the highest service award and only 10 percent of Girl Scouts achieve it,” says Taylor. “I looked around my community to see how I could impact it. Recycling was something I was used to doing and I realized that our school did not have a program.”
After her initial proposal for the recycling program met approval through J. Doyle, principle of OMHS, Taylor began extensive work to generate additional community support and funding for the bins and disposal services. She met with several local business leaders, including Robert Kelly, manager of Shelby County Environmental Service, in an effort to work out many of the program’s more complex details. The issue of expense did occasionally raise concern for Taylor during the program’s development. Yet, with the help and support of many community businesses, she was able to ascertain enough grant money to purchase the bins and, detail them with the school’s symbol. The greatest donation however, was offered by Waste Pro, which committed their bi-weekly recycling pick up services to OMHS at no expense.
Beginning the program with just paper recycling,Taylor says she hopes to eventually expand and allow for plastic and metal recycling as well. For now, however, her goal for the program is to begin raising more awareness among her peers, and within the community regarding the benefits of recycling. “When we recycle 200 pounds of paper, we save 17 trees,” she explains. “If one classroom recycles three pounds of paper per week, and we have 96 classrooms, how many trees do we save a week, a month, a school year?” asks Taylor excitedly.
As far as the initial response, Taylor says so far it’s been positive. “The students are actively participating, and coming up to me from time to time to tell me they are recycling both at school and at home.” Although at times the process proved to be challenging, Taylor remained dedicated toward achieving her goals. Doing so not only afforded her the opportunity to prove her leadership skills, but to also help make a significant impact on her community. On the heels of her efforts, she says, “I hope that everyone starts to think about our planet and how we can keep it healthy.” After graduation from OMHS, Taylor plans to attend college and says she’ll continue work to raise awareness within her community about environmental concerns.
Written By Kate Agliata