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New RHS club aims to make the Irish greener

A group of Rosemount High School students and staff members is out to save the world one lunch period at a time.

New this year at RHS, the Irish Green environmental club gives students a chance to make a statement to their peers about being friendly to the planet.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon that meant making signs reminding their fellow students to dump the remnants of their lunch in special composting bins rather than in the trash. RHS has had composting options available in other years but club advisor Veda Kanitz said students didn't pay much attention. They'd throw their food in regular trash bins or throw non-compostable trash in with their food waste.

"Once it gets contaminated there's nobody to sort it," Kanitz said.

So, on this particular after-school Tuesday student Krista Koch is cutting out and gluing letters to spell the message "Don't Be Trashy, recycle," while fellow club members Gerritt Bloch, Nick Hugo, Erich Wirtanen and Pedro Villafane are putting together a sign of their own. Kanitz imagines the club eventually coming up with designs for T-shirts and other items to help promote the club's cause and expects to see students visiting area elementary schools to talk about the importance of recycling and conserving energy.

The club's early projects came from an interest survey Kanitz handed out at an organizational meeting last week. She said the club will branch out as the year progresses.

Koch was one of more than 20 students who showed up at last week's organizational meeting. She'd seen a poster in the hall, she said. She recycles at home and wanted to make sure everyone else knows what kind of difference seemingly small steps like recycling can make.

"We just really want to raise the awareness because we want Rosemount to be an example for other schools," she said. "It's kind of a domino effect."

Koch said she's already talked some of her friends into joining.

Wirtanen joined the Irish Green Club after addressing some similar issues last year as a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions.

"I just came in here because I think global warming is a fact and we need to do something about it," he said.

Kanitz believes there are plenty of ways for students and teachers to make a difference at RHS. She'd like to see the school move from styrofoam lunch trays and plastic sporks to options that are biodegradable. She'd also like to see more recycled paper in classrooms. The district's School of Environmental Studies already uses recycled paper.

There have already been some successes for the club. RHS added big recycling bins in the lunchroom this week.

Time to play

The Irish Green Club won't be all about telling students to turn off lights and recycle their pop cans. Kanitz expects club members to have a little fun, too. She plans to take some students to Minnesota Power Shift, an environmental conference for high school and college students taking place early next month. There will be rock climbing and canoeing outings, too.

"It's not all work. We've got to play in our environment, too."

The Irish Green Club meets before and after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.