If you had walked into Warren Mott High School teacher Carl Taylor’s class on March 13, you might have mistaken it as shop class. The students wore gloves and safety glasses. Scrap wood and nails lay strewn across seven tables that served as the students’ work stations. The sounds of hammering and pneumatic drills echoed across the school’s cavernous hallways.
But this was no shop class – it was Taylor’s environmental science class, and GM Waste-Reduction Manager John Bradburn was showing students how to build bat houses using the scrap battery covers from a Chevrolet Volt.
“The kids were pounding, hammering, sawing and learning how to take waste and reuse it in other ways,” said Bradburn. “In this case, we’re benefitting wildlife.”
Nearly 400 of GM’s bat houses now protect wildlife populations throughout the United States and Canada. The houses that the Warren Mott High School students were building are heading to GM facilities in New York, which has seen sharp declines in bat populations in recent years due to white nose-syndrome, a disease that has killed more than 5.7 million cave-dwelling bats since 2006, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The bat houses are just one example of the innovative ways GM is reusing waste that would otherwise be destined for the landfill. Bradburn’s team has also reused the scrap Volt covers to create nesting boxes for wood ducks and flower planters at GM’s technical center in Warren, Mich.
“It was great that GM came to show the students the practical uses of their waste reduction efforts and about how they have 105 landfill-free sites around the world,” said Taylor. “We just finished a unit about American consumption patterns, so I thought it spoke volumes to what I was teaching and what the students were learning.”
The workshop was one of the many community outreach efforts GM employees participate in each year and was a joint effort by several GM divisions, including GM Components Holdings, Warren Powertrain, and GM’s global facilities and global environmental groups.
“The GM team had a lot of fun teaching the kids about recycling, reuse and repurposing,” said Forrest Ward, Technical Group Manager Facility Operations, GM Component Holdings. “It was great to see everyone rally around this event.”
Protecting wildlife and preserving natural resources are the hallmark of an environmentally conscious and socially responsible company. Imparting this wisdom to the next generation of environmental scientists is a true measure of a sustainable company.