Tam High’s Green Team has been the school’s leading combatant against years of environmentally unaware peers

Tamalpais High School’s Green Team has been the school’s leading combatant against years of environmentally unaware peers. The club was first introduced at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year as the brainchild of environmental science teacher Jessica Watts, but has since then faced several roadblocks, holding the progress to be made at bay. 

Prior to the Green Team’s introduction, Watts identified an issue with the assortment of Tam’s trash, compost, and recycling. For years, students and staff alike had neglected the concept of properly taking care of their waste. Watts came to understand that this problem could not be attributed to a lack of effort by these individuals, because there was no working system for them to follow in the first place. 

“Among students and custodial staff, the bar has been set really low for a long time, and Ms. Watts knew that needed to change. It naturally made sense for that change to come from the students. So the Green Team was introduced as a sort of a mediator in making this transition happen,” Science teacher and current head of Green Team Quinlan Brow said.

The club hit the ground running with its most memorable contribution to Tam’s campus: installing assorted and visually identifiable trash bins inside every classroom. This new system offered a foolproof solution to one half of Tam’s sorting problem, but as it turns out, the other half would not come as easy, because the Green Team still had to find a way to make people care. 


“If the student body was more generally aware things would be different. That’s how these things naturally go; the more people helping and actively participating the better,” Junior and Green Team member Ezra Orleans said.

So the group spent the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year attempting to bridge this gap by educating peers about which items belong in each bin, and the importance of the whole system. Unfortunately, the Green Team was running into roadblocks at every turn. 

“You would assume that the graphics are enough for people to identify where their trash belongs but that turned out to not be the case,” Sophomore and Green Team member Madeline Mickelson said. “Almost every class I go into during my routes has trash in all of the bins, so I have to reach into the trash and sort it myself. It’s disgusting.”

“If a single piece of trash ends up in one of the recycling bins, and we miss it, that entire load gets contaminated and all ends up at a landfill,” Orleans added.

Everything that can be done from the Green Team’s end has already been done. They implemented a fully functional trash sorting system, educated students in the simplest way possible, and have spent the past two years attempting to fix this problem. However, the group has come to the conclusion that no progress can be made until other students and staff on campus take some form of initiative, so maybe a change of approach is in order.

“Some form of incentivization could be a game changer. We are trying to think of ways in which we can reward students for actually paying attention and changing their behavior to help everyone out,” Brow said.