GM Student Corps Intern LEAPs into Recycling Action to Improve Community

GM Student Corps Intern LEAPs into Recycling Action to Improve Community

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Learn how a @GM Student Corps intern is LEAPing into recycilng action to improve his community. #Iwillrecycle

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Tahmim Siddiquee stands with one of the recycling bins his LEAP club maintains in the city of Hamtramck.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 - 9:35am

CAMPAIGN: GM Waste Reduction


It was just chance that Tahmim Siddiquee was assigned to research recycling initiatives as part of his GM Student Corps internship this past summer. A resident of Hamtramck, Michigan all his life, Tahmim didn’t even know his hometown had a residential recycling program. That’s because, he says, “recycling in Hamtramck is, for a lack of a better word, neglected.”

The program, he found, lacked public awareness and proved inconvenient due to a lack of resources for weekly curbside recycling pick-up. For his GM Student Corps project, which provides high school students paid internships and the opportunity to give back to their neighborhoods, Tahmim and the nine other interns in his group recommended a summer project to expand the city’s recycling. With the help of GM retirees and a college intern, the group worked with the Hamtramck Recycling Commission to make recycling more accessible. Hamtramck’s recycling commissioner donated five recycling bins to be placed around the city, and the Student Corps interns made sure the bins were maintained.

Tahmim is hopeful that another summer of GM Student Corps activity will get more bins on the street. He’s become so passionate about the project that he has continued the momentum into his school, Hamtramck High.

When he returned to classes this fall, Tahmim launched a recycling club. He then quickly realized he wanted to focus on all environmental issues, not just recycling, so he branded his group LEAP: Leaders of Environmental Awareness and Preservation. The group has three goals:

  • Maintain the recycling bins started with the GM Student Corps project and pioneer recycling programs at all Hamtramck Public Schools
  • Create awareness and action at schools and in the community about environmental issues and identify ways to resolve them
  • Focus on environmental projects in the community like planting trees and city gardens, and launch reuse collaborations among students and other residents.

Critical to achieving his goals is demonstrating why caring about the environment is important.

“The teaching part of it is really crucial,” he said. “You can’t just put out bins and expect people to understand – you have to teach them why it’s important to future generations. The more waste we send to landfills, the bigger they get, and the more pollution they make.”

Tahmim’s group now has a teacher sponsor and 40 students at Hamtramck High School who work to create this awareness. The group is broken into executives and general members who hold different responsibilities. Some communicate the message by making fun videos about recycling. Others make up a community focus group to help their neighbors better understand what recycling is and how they can do it. Some work with other school clubs, like the National Honor Society, to plan community environmental projects.

The LEAP group is now supporting the city’s recycling efforts. They’re helping out at the bi-weekly recycling drop-offs and raising money to increase the number of bins on the streets. They’ve even equipped teachers with boxes to put their recyclables in to make it easy, and then makes sure they are collected every week.

Tahmim believes everything can be tied back to efforts to improve the environment. After finishing school he doesn’t just anticipate a recycling-focused job because he believes there’s infinitely many ways to be an environmentally focused person. He’s trying to show Hamtramck how it can be done.

GM’s driving a global movement toward zero waste. We have 122 landfill-free facilities -- meaning no waste from daily operations goes to a landfill. Tahmim and the student members of LEAP are helping to expand the no-waste mentality throughout the community, and demonstrating GM’s own purpose of serving and improving the communities in which we live and work.

Join us in the movement to zero waste by making a pledge to recycle in honor of America Recycles Day, today, Sunday, November 15. Post a photo with the hashtag #Iwillrecycle to commit to recycle more! 

CATEGORY: Environment