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Energy from Garbage?! Nooo Way…

2011 December 27


Recently, Girl Scout Cadette Troop# 10717 from Florida uncovered an amazing fact during their Breathe Journey stage–a  step they take to connect and take action to earn three leadership awards and engage in improving the world’s air quality.

They toured a local waste management facility and discovered how energy is generated by using everyday trash.

With safety gear and hard hats on, the girls took a close look at the process.

Over 2,000 tons of municipal wastes arrive daily to the plant for processing.  The trash is placed into a furnace to be burned and turned into high pressure steam. The steam is converted into electricity, which is sold to local utilities.  Any ferrous metals that remain, such as iron and steel, are separated for recycling as scrap metals.  The overall volume of incoming trash is reduced by more than 90% in this process. This is so much better than going into a landfill!

The troop was excited to find a facility whose mission reflected their own, a leader interested in being green and who was concerned with safe air quality standards!  Seventh grader Alyssa said:   “We care about the environment because we live in it. We want to make the world a greener place.”

For Troop # 10717, the next step to complete their breath journey involved creating awareness within their community.  The “Greening with Greenery” project was created, which entailed each girl growing plants from seed to give away at a local event.   In over 3 months, the troop had over 1,000 plants to give to their community! To be even more sustainable, the plants were given out in biodegradable newspaper pots instead of plastic ones.  At the event, the troop educated the community on the harmful effects of air pollution and how plants can improve air quality.

Emily (6th grader) said:  “Plants absorb carbon dioxide and they give off oxygen.  We wouldn’t be able to survive without them.  By giving away plants, we hope to inspire people to grow their own garden to help our planet.”  Seventh grader Elizabeth said:  “We asked people to take action in helping our environment by planting trees and picking up trash in their environment.”

The project was a success!  Not only will they receive their badges for the Breathe Journey but they’ve been asked to run their plant give-away booth at annual fundraiser in January.  WAY TO GO!

Yvonne Gonzalez is a SCEP intern with the Air and Radiation Division in Region 5. She is currently pursuing a dual graduate degree at DePaul University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    February 24, 2012

    what a cool project! i want to make energy out of garbage!

  2. Anonymous permalink
    October 31, 2012

    This is awesome. I love that the children know about plants and the good that they do for our environment.

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