A Look Back – American High School EarthTeam

Earth Team came to visit American High School back in September, and their representative was Devin Cormia. At first, I didn’t really think much of it. Many of us just joined for service hours, and didn’t really care what we did. However, over the course of the 9-10 months of our internship, we grew more active and involved in our efforts to resolve litter on our campus.

Back when we first began, none of us really knew anything, so we just picked up litter. We used instagram to track the kinds of litter spread around our campus so we could possibly narrow down and fix a problem. Many of us participated in the weekend outings, like the Restoration Outing, which I missed. Many of them after were Creek Cleanups, which were also pretty fun. After a couple months of gathering information, our data concluded that bottled water containers and their caps were primary contributors to litter on campus.

This created a spark withinin our group, and we were determined to fix this. We used Google Forms to survey students about litter and water fountain usage, and used that knowledge to our advantage. We found out about an old grant that was lying around, which happened to be for Hydration Stations. It was well received, since it could do a great job in fixing the amount of plastic bottles that are being thrown on the ground. We were determined, and spoke with our very own Principal Musto about the situation. Thankfully, he welcomed them, and after some research, decided they would be installed. So, our mission was a success.

At the very end of the year, Hamza and I went to the LEAF Conference. We set up a workshop informing people about Google Forms. Unfortunately, only around five people came, but it was a very interactive crowd. We ended up talking to them about lots of different things, which made it enjoyable. Our school’s own Eco club was there too! It seems like a fun conference, so I may head over there next year too… Hamza and I ended up leaving right after the workshop, so we weren’t able to see much there though.

Personally, I thought the Earth Team Internship was a great opportunity. Like the rest of the members, I only joined because I heard there were going to be service hours. Over the course of a couple months, I ended up being interested in environmental problems, whether it be just at our school or globally. I thought I was able to contribute a lot to the meetings, especially with the projects we worked on.

Overall, Earth Team was a great experience. It opened up a vast new world to me that I wasn’t aware of before this year. As a team, we did a great job to help our community. The fact that we were able to successfully get hydration stations purchased is a huge success, especially for the future students of this school. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the afterschool activities we did. Thank you to the Earth Team organization for being able to come to our school, and a huge thanks to our coordinator Devin Cormia for guiding us through this wild ride and always being able to keep up with our antics. It was a great year.

-Matthew I.

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Matthew and Hamza presenting their work at LEAF 2015


American H.S. EarthTeam interns have been hard at work addressing the #1 category of trash at their school, materials associated with disposable water bottles.


  • EarthTeam Interns collected over 1000 data points of litter.
  • The most common source of litter was from disposable water bottles.
  • Interns then surveyed 226 of their peers about the water fountain.

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  • Students will now present their findings to the school administration.
  • With hydration stations installed, interns expect litter from water bottles to decrease dramatically.


A review of AHS EarthTeam

Hi, my name is Aneha, a junior currently attending American High School in Fremont. A few months back, my AP Environmental Science teacher recommended Earth Team as being a great opportunity to invest myself into a field of study that focused on the importance of a healthy environment as well as the detrimental effects of litter. Recently, one of our activities included making a litter bingo card that other students could use to not only win a prize, but also to aid in the effort of having a clean campus and by doing so, understanding the damaging consequences litter may have. Before this activity was finalized, a few of our members as well as myself had to test out the card around campus with categories of items that we had come up with including plastic, metal, tape, and even pencils. Actively participating in this unique bingo game was surprisingly fun and the possibility of winning created an incentive that boosted the desire to pick up overlooked pieces of trash. Overall, the activity was a success and by doing this with tens of other high school student can truly decrease the amount of litter seen on our campus.

More recently on March 3, the members of Earth team at American decided to begin a survey to assess what other students and faculty at our school really feel about litter. Questions included how likely an individual would pick a stray piece of litter of the ground and whether or not this topic interested him or her. The survey allowed for a bigger opinion about this cause to be evaluated rather than just have roughly twelve members express ideas or concerns. So far, individuals are quite responsive in completing the survey due to how little time it takes and the simplicity of the questions themselves. These two activities are just a few of the many incorporative tasks I have taken a part in as being a member of Earth team. Before joining this group, I was that person who somewhat cared about litter and wildlife but would still not recycle or walk by a piece of litter on the ground. After my experience with Earth team, I am passionate about environmentalism and recommend joining this group.

– Aneha S.

A student catalogs litter on their campus using Instagram.

Litter Bingo

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Last week on February 17, our group decided that we would have students play bingo for the event planned by us. The rules are the same as regular bingo, but students will have to find pieces of litter assigned in their card, and we have good faith that they will not cheat, hopefully because this event is during lunch. To get an idea of how possibly long or tedious finding the litter may be, we made our own bingo cards with mostly common pieces of litter found around the school, and a good one, so one could not easily win.



A bit of hope

Litter awareness posters made by American H.S. students


Whenever I go to Earth Team meetings, I always look forward to what we are going to do next. Sometimes we do some planning for an event that will spread awareness of the amount of litter there is in the world. We also go out to pick up the trash that is vastly spread around the school by our fellow students. Occasionally, we play a little game to increase our teamwork so we can work together a lot easier.

Some of the things that we have done to raise awareness were to put up posters around the school. However, they were taken down one by one by the students or by the teachers themselves. One of them is still up so maybe there is a bit of hope for the high school students.

– Justin W.

EarthTeam, a reflection.

litter documented at AHS.
Gimme a break, Gimme a break, Pick me up a piece o’ that Kit Kat bar (wrapper)

The time I’ve spent with the Earth Team crew has been good. It is nice to know that even though its only cleaning our school campus, we are making steps in reducing the amount of litter. Using Instagram, we are able to create a map of the litter located around campus, to see where there is a higher concentration of litter, and think of solutions to these problems.

Earth Team has never been boring. It’s a combination of fun social interaction with little bonding exercises sprinkled in between, to keep things new and fresh.

It feels good knowing that we are making a change, even if it’s a small one. Picking up a few pieces of trash means that it won’t be floating out there somewhere in the environment.

– Justin B.

Gathering Data – a student’s perspective


Photo of litter found feet away from a trash bin.

In the Earthteam meeting on Tuesday, we went around the campus of our school, American High School, and recorded all of the waste bins outside on campus. We were checking to see if more bins might reduce the amount of litter on campus, so we also checked for litter near the bins too. That was just a recap of the activities on Tuesday so all of you guys can catch up.

I feel like in taking part in this activity, we get to really see the impact of the bins before we do anything drastic like asking for more bins. If we asked for more bins, and there is still litter around the bins, then that might just be counter-productive, and maybe a waste of time and money. The higher-up we ask might not see the impact either, and not do anything else for us later when we ask. That would suck, so I think the goal of the activity was to see what course of action to take next.

From this activity, I found out people are lazier than they seem. Seriously though, the bin is like only ten to fifteen feet away, three meters about, and they still choose to litter. Also, even though there are bins close by, there are not bins everywhere, like in the parking lot where the whole parking lot has no trash bins anywhere. Still though, that is no reason for littering, they could hold their trash until they reached a bin somewhere. In short, this whole experience has told me people are lazy, and maybe we need less trash can density, and more spread out in an area. A shout-out to the watersheds (that we learned about during one of the Earthteam meetings).


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Markers indicate a piece of litter found within a few feet of a trashbin.

Getting Acquainted – our first student blog post

Exemplery litterati post
#zerolitter #plastic #beneFITbars

So I recently applied for an internship for this organization called EarthTeam. I first started EarthTeam because I needed some hours. At first I thought this would be kind of a pain. But as the weeks go on I started enjoying it more and more. At Earthteam we would do this thing call “litterati” it’s where we would pick up trash around our school and post it on the EarthTeam’s instagram with #litterati #zerolitter and the material of the item. We would also turn on the location on instagram so we would see where all the trash would be. So far it’s going great and I hope that this process would help spread the word out there.