The catalog of Anchorage School District clubs and organizations ranges from the standard (drama, orchestra, international cultures) to the slightly bizarre (it's unclear exactly what a live-action role-play club does).
But few organizations can claim they work not just for the good of their school but the benefit of the community at large and the planet the way recycling clubs do.
The programs go by different names at different schools -- it's the Green Club at South and Service high schools, the Recycling Club at East and the Green Team at West -- but all work to recycle paper and cardboard products produced by their schools and promote an environmental consciousness in students.
Saving the world, one sheet of notebook paper at a time.
"Green Team helps to educate its members, West High and the community about how to live in environmentally friendly ways," said Anna Boslough, a sophomore at West High and a member of her school's recycling program. "We're avid recyclers, recycling every day after school."
Boslough said the group also does work off school grounds.
"Last year we went to the dump to see how trash was processed and if we could recycle any of it. Some team volunteers also participated in a recycling fair in spring of last year," Boslough said.
It seems their focused work hasn't gone unnoticed. Green Star, an Alaska company that promotes environmental awareness in businesses and schools, awarded the West High Green Team a grant three years ago for its efforts.
As far as extracurricular activities go, recycling clubs are easy on time commitment and don't require an entry fees, and the only real risk is losing the key to the Dumpster.
The emotional commitment, however, can sometimes feel overwhelming. As in other efforts to fight waste, there is bound to be a certain amount of self-doubt of the what-can-I-really-do-to-stop-this variety.
The West Green Team's numbers have swelled from 20 to nearly 35 in less than a year, and recycling programs are being adopted by more schools throughout the district eager to turn their wasted paper products into something useful.
The rewards of the clubs greatly outweigh the requirements, and the programs give students a chance to affect local and global communities.
It might not seem like it, but the work of a few high school students emptying blue plastic bins filled with paper does makes a difference. And saving the world, even if it is one sheet of notebook paper at a time, is definitely a good way to spend your afterschool hours.
Susannah Perkins is a sophomore at West High School.