Sustainability Committee discusses future plans

Griffin Smith, Staff Writer

The Sustainability Committee met yesterday to continue planning this year’s school wide Green Action Week, which will be held in April. 

Green Action Week will feature speakers and activities to get students thinking about sustainability. 

The committee’s current focus is to help students better understand how they can contribute to a culture of sustainability at the school and in their homes, science teacher Roselle Yang said. Yang believes that a major change individuals can make to further sustainability efforts is their food choices, she said.

To further this idea, the committee is bringing in nutritionist Ryan Andrews to speak to both the Upper and Middle Divisions about sustainable foods and how we can change our daily choices, Yang said.  Andrews has worked in school nutrition programs, helps out on sustainability farms, and is planning on speaking to classes, she said.

The committee has been working with Green HM, a club dedicated to sustainability issues at the school, to bring awareness of environmental concerns to the school in an attempt to get students involved in initiatives to better our environment, science teacher Katherine Diaz said.

In December, the committee and Green HM had a joint meeting with Assistant Vice President of Environmental Stewardship from Columbia University Jessica Prata, co-chair of the Sustainability Committee Nick DePreter said.

“[Prata] gave us lots of ideas on how to work as a community to reduce waste and measure our effectiveness as a school,” DePreter said.

She also gave great insight on environmental issues and how the school can be more sustainable, Green HM member Ari Moscona-Skolnik (12) said.

Following this, the committee worked with Green HM to create school-wide initiatives such as switching to paper from plastic straws.

Although only on a small scale, the initiative is helping to reduce the amount of plastic waste that goes into the environment, Noah Phillips (11) said.

“Even if it’s just for a short amount of time, we are all helping and contributing to the cause,” Phillips said.

However, some students believe that the paper straws have had a negative effect on many members of the community.

“The straws get soggy and don’t work so you’re forced to get another one,” Sam Mayo (11) said.

The paper straw’s vulnerability to getting soggy causes students to use more straws and leads to even more trash and waste, which has a negative impact on the environment, Mayo said.

Due to variance in opinion amongst the student body on how the school should respond to sustainability issues, the committee is currently using a radar chart, which is a graph used to compare multiple variables, that will gather and display the student body’s perspective on sustainability, Diaz said.

“We’re using this data to drive future initiatives,” and to more effectively reach the student body and increase student involvement, she said. “It is so important to us that sustainable practices continue to become ingrained in the daily routines of the Horace Mann community.”