Live Green and Earn Points


Experience Island Green

By Green Schools Program |
A student at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, OH, tells us about the first time she was inspired to encourage green actions in others:

A trip to the colorful rain forests of Sri Lanka followed by the contrast of a slashed-and-burned forest taught this student an amazing lesson about the importance of caring for the environment.
A student at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, OH, tells us about the first time she was inspired to encourage green actions in others.
WRITTEN BY: 12th Grade Student Melani Kekulawala

I have always considered myself an environmentalist. This was mostly due to my pestering mother who constantly reminded me that it was our duty to preserve our planet. However, I never took initiative nor did I wholeheartedly separate the recycling from the garbage. This attitude completely changed when I visited Sri Lanka during my freshman year of high school.

My first sight of Sri Lanka was from the plane. I remember flying over the teardrop shaped island and being astonished at the lush greenery. Once we had landed, I saw miles and miles of coconut trees. My family planned a series of trips all around Sri Lanka so that I could experience more of the culture and sites my homeland had to offer.

One of the places that I remember most vividly is Trinco Beach. It was there that I went coral reef snorkeling. The reef looked like something straight out of Planet Earth or the Discovery Channel. The fish were bright blue, yellow, purple, and orange. Some were enormous and others were minuscule. Their fins brushed on my skin and sent tingles through my body. It was a magical place.

The other place I remember clearly is the Sinharaja Rain Forest. There were loud, screeching bizarre birds, and flowers that appeared to have come from another planet. The buzz of insects, the sweltering heat, and the rapid flapping of thousands of wings all reinforced the same idea — the rainforest was alive.

Needless to say, it was a pretty amazing experience. Nevertheless, on the way back from this trip to Colombo, we passed through a barren land. Trees were demolished and set aside. Dust blew in the wind and everything looked dead. No birds chirped and no insects hummed. The only fragrance in the air was that of smoke. I soon realized that people had used the slash and burn technique. Having just scene a slice of heavenly beauty in Sinharaja, this destruction stands out vividly in my memory. More importantly, it blatantly portrays the effects of human negligence and selfishness. This trip profoundly affected me. It made me realize just how precious and fleeting the rainforest and the coral reefs are, and it instilled in me a deep desire to protect and preserve the environment in any way.

This experience was the first time I felt a passion — an urgency — to encourage green actions in others. I realized that one person could make a difference only by spreading the news, increasing awareness, and setting an example for others to follow. More importantly, this inspired me take initiative. I was elected as president of Bio/Eco Club, which is a club devoted to reducing our school’s carbon footprint by handling the school’s resources. My vice-president too has been inspired by her trip to a rain forest in Ghana.

From this, I learned that experience is the best inspiration.

What experiences have inspired you the most? Share your stories below!

Recyclebank Green Schools Program awards grants to schools in order to fund environmental projects that empower youth to green their own communities. For every 100 points donated to an accepted school, Recyclebank donates $10 to that school.

Walnut Hills High School students will expand their collection of bottles and cans, which has become a major part of their recycled waste stream. As students are responsible for this program, it will provide a more manageable recycling process and at the same time, incorporate more students in the program. Currently, their containers vary in size, are cumbersome and are difficult to transfer. Students will be able to recycle more effectively with manageable size containers that have wheels, improving their efficiency in the process of recycling. This will allow the school to divert more material from the waste stream collections. The work will be shared among the recycling club, Bio/Eco club, CAT club, and other volunteers, and efforts will be made to educate the public on recycling programs and the facilitation of Hamilton County programs.

Learn more about the Green Schools Program!

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  • Elaine F. 5 years ago
    In my high school, they had one day when you could choose to cut class, all day if you wanted to to help clean the school grounds.