Concerned students clean their community: North Bergen High School Environmental Club

Gearing up for Earth Day at the end of April, more than 20 students from the North Bergen High School Environmental Club gathered on a warm spring Monday to clean up bags and bags of trash from 3701 Tonnelle Avenue, leaving a much cleaner space.

The event was sponsored by North Bergen Clean Communities, in conjunction with NJLM Government Week, North Bergen DPW and the North Bergen Municipal Utilities Authority, who provided safety supplies (rakes, gloves, goggles) and bus transportation.

“I didn’t really know about this club until my teacher told me to join it and I became really interested because you get to do many activities and help the community, help the earth,” says North Bergen High School freshman Beatriz Barc.

As citizens of the world, Richard Mesa sees the importance of preserving our planet.

“I think it’s a good thing that we’re doing this as young adults; we’re doing stuff like this for our community,” says the senior.

According to Kristen Ontal, co-president of NBHS Environmental Club, it’s a way for us to raise awareness of how to keep our environments clean. “‘Cause this is our home,” Ontal says. “What are we gonna do, where are we gonna live if our home is destroyed.”

It’s all about reducing our environmental impact as individuals and a school community and the kids are amazed at the amount of stuff that piles up and where it comes from.

“They can’t believe this is humans and just the sense of appreciation just to come out and clean up and look around and see the change — that they’ve done in just a few couple of hours,” says Jennifer Checchio, co-moderator of NBHSEC.

You can see what the students accomplished with just this cleanup.

“These kids are so energetic, they’ve climbed over fences, under fences — raking,” says Recycling Program Aide, Thomas Stampe, of the NBMUA. “I mean, it’s unbelievable.”

The Environmental Club is a group of concerned students committed to raising awareness about issues facing the earth.

“We care for our local environment, our town environment and our global environment, so this is a great way of accessing our community environment and beautify our town,” says Dana Hojnowski, co-moderator of NBHSEC.

Whether it’s the Green Fair or any town cleanup, Jennifer and Dana are always there pitching in.

“After effect, by looking at the video and before; big difference, really big difference,” Stampe says.

It’s Richard’s first time with the Environmental Club doing something like this and it means a lot.

“I actually enjoy it because we’re helping out the earth, keeping it clean, ya know. That’s something that everybody should be doing,” Mesa says.

“I want to help others, that’s just my motivation,” Barc says.

If you look around there’s a lot of trash everywhere.

“Nobody really cares, but that’s reality, you have to take care of your earth, you have to take care of where you live,” says Zainab Mahmoud, co-president of the NBHS Environmental Club. “These people obviously didn’t pick up after themselves and we’ve been here for hours.”

The earth is all we have. Recycle, pick up after yourself. It can go a long way.

“Bottles and glasses are recyclable so recycle, using less plastic can help,” Ontal says.

The mayor’s very passionate about the town and keeping the community clean.

“So when these kids get involved it really reflects on how good this town really is and I’m proud to be part of it,” Stampe says.