Earth necessitates individual, school-wide sustainability

According to an article on https://www.environmentalscience.org, sustainability is defined as “the study of how natural systems function, remain diverse and produce everything it needs for the ecology to remain in balance.”

Due to Earth’s increasingly tumultuous conditions, there are people who consider sustainability imperative to keep the Earth stable and livable.

AP Environmental Science teacher Cici Faucher wrote in an email about the conditions of the Earth, “We are at a tipping point for our world. There are doomsday scenarios that [predict] we will be at the point of no return in 10-20 years and also more realistically around 50 years.”

Faucher added, “Due to the situation that has developed sustainability and minimalism are critical to the survival of the human race as we know it. If we continue on this path, we are damaging ourselves. The earth can recover, she is very resilient, but we are one of the least adaptable species and expect her to adapt to us, and she can no longer take our selfishness.”

Art by Elise Keller

Senior Tyler Benbow, environmental club co-president, wrote, “At some point we will need to learn how to naturally sustain ourselves, especially during our current environmental situation. There is a substantial amount of evidence discussing climate change and global warming, it is now or never, and sustainability is a huge factor in creating a greener future for ourselves and future generations.”

Even though the situation can often sound dire, and as if extreme measures have to be taken, there are realistic things that people can do to live more sustainably.

Faucher gave some suggestions, writing, “Reduce packaging and waste is one of the easiest ways to help. If you get fruit at the store, it doesn’t need to go in a plastic bag. Buy from the farmers market or other farm co-ops.  Eat locally sourced food. Use less water and turn off the lights.”

Senior Bella Dearmitt, environmental club member, additionally suggested, “Changes don’t always have to be dramatic and/or radical. They can be as simple as bringing your own to go box when eating out, investing in long lasting and durable items instead of convenient and cheap, even buying second hand will help reduce your carbon footprint.”

Benbow wrote ,”Everyone should at one point should take a step back and evaluate their lives from an environmental perspective. Any small change in routine, like not using a plastic straw or having reusable tupperware for lunches, will all positively impact the environment.”

It is not just individuals that the responsibility for sustainability lies on, that can do things to improve the situation, but also institutions, like schools or school districts.

WGHS has already has many sustainable practices: the use of LED instead of fluorescent lights, using “grey water” (“relatively clean waste water from baths, sinks, washing machines and other kitchen appliances,” according to google.com) to water fields, as Faucher highlights, as well as utilizing energy from around 120 solar panels around the school, which environmental club members see as a good step towards a greener school.

Even as the high school has made steps towards sustainability, there is always room for improvement.

Art by Elise Keller

Faucher wrote, “Unfortunately, our biggest issue is recycling. Our recycle bins are not used properly. Recycling can not have any food or other waste product or it must be thrown away.”

Junior Allie Reed, environmental club co-president, wrote, “If you’re like me, you often find yourself with an item that you aren’t sure if you are able to recycle. Simply educating the school community on small changes that they could make in their habits make a big difference when you look at the size of our school.”

Benbow wrote, “I would like to see the administration work towards a cleaner district. We have styrofoam cups in the cafeteria, plastic forks, and many other harmful materials throughout schools.”

Another recommendation is the implementation of composting into the waste management system of the school.

Benbow wrote, “One of the ideas that [environmental club] thought about was composting! [The high school has] so much food waste being one that has 1,300 students, and what better way than having composting bins.”

Benbow added, “Luckily, composting is pretty easy and can be started at home as well. This would help with food waste and benefit the environment simultaneously.”

Dearmitt wrote, “Making sustainability a priority in your life is important because it is quite literally a life or death situation. According the our world’s scientists (and the Harvard Business Review) we have about 12 years left.

Dearmitt added, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared that we must cut our carbon emissions by 45 percent  by 2030, and completely decarbonize by 2050 in order to avoid some of the most devastating impacts of climate change.

“Our oceans are dying and towns are being wiped from the map as we sit in school. We must change our ways, or suffer the consequences.” Dearmitt said.

“Every person’s actions are impactful and if we strive to be a positive force we can actually make a change,” Faucher said.

For tips on sustainability, visit Bella Dearmitt’s google doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZYI6c-CRfaOTbsGvS0tbsqiZwd287hKMEbcny0nNfOU/edit.

Maeve Taylor – Podcast Editor

This is Maeve Taylor’s first year on the Echo. She made several contributions to the Echo while taking journalism her freshman year.

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