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Maui Prep sparks movement against junk mail

By Staff | Sep 25, 2014

Maui Preparatory Academy seventh-graders Eva Kareneva (right) and Amelia Graham collected junk mail over a sixth-month period. They spent untold hours e-mailing, calling and canceling unwanted advertisements and catalogues. By the end of the project, they had reduced junk mail at Maui Prep by over 75 percent and counting. Their next goal is to inspire students across Maui to do the same.

NAPILI – At Maui Preparatory Academy, a few students have been working on eliminating the waste created at the school. The goal is to reduce the junk mail received. This will waste much less of the paper that isn’t useful to teachers.

Maui Prep receives two to three large boxes of junk mail every month. The goal is to educate people, have them recognize the waste this creates and make an effort to reduce and recycle this junk mail.

What happens is big education companies mass mail schools in hopes of selling their products. Most of the catalogs and magazines immediately get thrown away straight into the landfill. These companies haven’t adjusted to the more modern style of selling their products online.

Andrew O’Riordan, teacher at Maui Prep, said. “They have a broken, old, environmentally irresponsible business model. The problem is how to create efficiency and reduce waste.”

That is exactly what the problem is. These companies haven’t adjusted and have an environmentally irresponsible way of selling their products. The point of this is not to talk about the flaws of business companies. It is to create awareness and to minimize the amount of paper wasted. Even with that extra paper, recycle it.

With three to five hours of e-mails and countless phone calls, the school was able to eliminate 75 percent of the junk mail it received. For a school like Maui Prep, that doesn’t leave much paper; but for the larger schools of Maui, that’s still far too much paper being thrown away. What people need to do is recycle that additional paper that is still left over.

Many people at Maui Prep were asked about the situation, and this is what the school’s secretary, Mrs. Pupunu, had to say: “Now we give the junk mail to Mr O. But before, we would throw it out, and it would go into the landfill and be wasted. We didn’t like it; we thought it was a huge waste of paper. We were happy when Mr. O said we could take it back and write to these companies and say no more. Send it by e-mail. There still is a lot of junk mail. I mean, it’s working, but it’s not slowing down. It seemed like it was working over summer, but now that school has started, it’s still happening.”

That’s the problem; it’s still happening. People need to realize that they are wasting trees, which are used to breathe, and then make a change. The paper just gets thrown into the landfill to rot; there is absolutely no benefit to that. People need to find a way to recycle this paper that doesn’t involve it being sent to Honolulu or Los Angeles. If useless paper is being shipped from island to island using fossil fuels and causing global warming, that’s unacceptable.

Eva Kareneva and Amelia Graham, two seventh-graders at Maui Prep who have also been working on this project, had this to say: “We needed community service, and the topic came up of junk mail. It was basically all of these random magazines being sent to teachers. It wasn’t necessary. This project is meant to slim down the amount of trees we use at school. We’re doing this to help save trees and the environment. If we can prevent it, we should. The office would get three large boxes of junk mail monthly that would sit in the office and eventually throw it away. It makes us upset that (companies) are sending people magazines. I mean, it’s good to advertise your product, but there are other ways now. It’s the 21st century. You can advertise on television or the computer; what’s the point of wasting trees we use to breathe?”

The goal is to find a way that creates efficiency and reduces waste. The school’s goal is to reduce all of this waste, because it’s good for the Earth, and it’s responsible. Students at Maui Prep are hoping to inspire and connect with schools around the island to help all of us take better care of our land and our schools.

It’s Maui Prep’s mission to help other students reduce junk mail at their schools. If you want to help be a part of this movement, contact Sophomore Class President Jonah Bluh at jbluh17@mauiprep.org.