Hudsonville’s ‘Green Team’ gains wisdom from waste

Ottawa County

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — While picking up rotting trash isn’t an activity most people would enjoy in their free time, Hudsonville High School’s Green Team is different.

“We’ll get like nasty bags that are dripping everywhere, but we love it! It’s for a good cause,” said an enthusiastic Sophia Putman.

The senior joined the Green Team four years ago when her science teacher, Christine Webster, told her about it.

Webster started the recycling group several years prior. She says it’s a group that doesn’t discriminate.

“I don’t care if you’re in advanced placement or just trying to make it through, we accept every type of student. If you want to come and sort garbage, we want you!” Webster explained.

Green Team members volunteer their time after school to come up with project ideas, collect trash from recycling bins throughout the school, and take part in community events, like cleaning up the beach.

When it comes to waste, there’s more to it than meets the eye, as Sophia and her peers have discovered.

“You could walk past a section of sand and not even see it, but these little tiny microplastics called nurdles, which are the base plastics to manufactured different products, they litter the beach and they leech toxins into the water,” she explained.

Everything they collect is recorded in a trash log of sorts. The goal this year is to keep more than 2,000 pounds of waste out of the landfill.

The students learn science along the way, doing experiments like burying what they find in a “trash garden” and seeing what happens to each piece every year.

“We all come together under one cause, and that’s huge for a school community,” said Webstier. “We all live on this planet, we all have some connection to nature and we want to preserve that. And just seeing the excitement from the people participating in a group that loves that sort of thing has just been remarkable.”

The students will take their Green Team knowledge with them long after graduation.

Sophia hopes to eventually study marine biology. Her teacher has no doubt she’ll be successful.

“I am so proud of my team and who they are and where they’re gonna be, and I can’t wait to see what their journey ends up at after high school,” said Webster.

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