East´s Eco Club hosts a battery collection challenge through a local organization.

Eco Clubs´ battery collection poster created by Haritha Karthikeyan. ¨I joined Eco Club junior year because I was interested in environmental studies and I was thinking about becoming an environmental engineer,¨ Senior Erika Weidner said. 

East´s Eco Club has partnered with Southside Blooms – a florist and social enterprise of Chicago Eco House – in their battery collection challenge, to encourage students and staff alike to donate the batteries for proper recycling. 

Last month, the club met with Southside Blooms´ cofounder Hannah Bonham Blackwell. Eco Club President Zaccari Starkman said he learned of the company when volunteering with the Northwestern Medicine Discovery Program. 

¨We have now formed a partnership with Southside Blooms that can continue even beyond when I graduate,” Starkman said. 

According to Resource Recycling Systems, 75 to 92 percent of lithium ion batteries are discarded improperly. 

With this large percentage, club sponsor Scott Johnson thought this collection would provide a great opportunity to educate locals on the environmental harm caused by mishandled batteries.

¨The whole goal is to prevent most people from throwing the batteries away in the trash,¨ Johnson said. ¨They shouldn’t be in the landfills because the chemicals leach out and could contaminate the groundwater.¨

Senior Haritha Karthikeyan, another club member heavily involved in the battery collection, said people don’t really think about the harm they are causing when throwing away batteries. 

¨They can create battery fires,¨ Karthikeyan said. ¨And another thing, these batteries are made out of a lot of valuable materials.¨

While this is only one event the Eco Club is hosting, Karthikeyan said everything they do is in an attempt to better the community.

¨This whole thing is because we like to identify little things that we can do to change our behaviors every day to make a difference in the environment,¨ Karthikeyan said. 

Johnson´s obsession with birds is what initially got him interested in sponsoring Eco Club, but he credited all of the other environmental clubs he had participated in throughout his life. 

¨Eco Club strives to help planet Earth and build awareness to environmental action, movements, and ideas,¨ Johnson said. ¨And to get kids involved with being more eco-friendly and environmentally friendly.¨ 

Thus far, Starkman and Karthikeyan are happy with the progress of the battery collection, but continue to aim for more peer involvement. 

¨We have been talking about having a prize,¨ Karthikeyan said. ¨If you donate, you put your name into a raffle and you get to pie Mr. Johnson, or something fun like that.¨

The Eco Club meets every Monday after school and the battery collection will continue throughout April. 

Grace Praxmarer is a staff editor for Oswego East’s online news magazine The Howl.

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