Sonoma trash display aims to draw attention to global problem

A giant pile of trash is on display this week on the Sonoma Valley High School campus in the form of an environmental art display.

The students in teacher Walt Williams’s social responsibility class at Creekside High School are trying to come up with a solution to the trash problem both in their nearby Nathanson Creek and around the world.

In 17 years of his class’s weekly cleaning of Nathanson Creek, Williams’s students have removed about 1,500 bags of trash. Enough to fill five average size houses (2,500 square feet), according to Williams.

“Cleaning the creek is not a punishment with my students but a karmic building activity,” said Williams. “Do good to the earth and good things will happen to you.”

Starting on Monday, Oct. 24, the Creekside students have in place a wooden box in the shape of a present in the rotunda on the Sonoma Valley High campus to bring awareness of the trash issue. The box will contain three-weeks worth of actual trash from Nathanson Creek, representing a gift from the Creek. All students will be encouraged to submit their solutions to the trash problem to The best solution will win a $20 gift certificate from Sonoma Old School. The present will remain visible for a week and be taken away on Friday, Oct. 28.

Williams has developed a curriculum that begins by exploring how increasing estrogen levels from plastic pollution leads to earlier menstruation and shrinking penis size. “Scary at any age and it gets their attention,” he said.

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