Students spring into Green Action

Talia Winiarsky and Chloe Choi

Bright neon notes displaying startling statistics about the global environmental crisis lined the school walls. These warnings were a part of last week’s Green Action Week, coordinated by the school’s Sustainability Committee to introduce an array of initiatives to decrease the community’s carbon footprint on the environment.

Nick DePreter, Dorr teacher and co-chair of the school’s Sustainability Committee, said the Committee planned the week to direct the community’s focus towards the environment. “There are ways, as a community, to make a difference if we come together and care about the environment,” he said.

Green Action Week began Monday with a campaign to decrease food waste. According to an email sent on April 12th by music teacher Michael Bomwell, who largely coordinated Green Action Week, “Each day, we will monitor the number of trash bags that go out on the curb, and we’ll get a sense of how we are doing.  The goal is to reduce our trash output each day from the previous amount.”

Despite the Committee’s oversight, the number of trash bags used in Tillinghast Hall increased throughout the week, from 26 bags on Monday to 35 bags on Thursday, Bomwell said.

One reason the trash campaign did not meet expectations was its lack of publicity, Dalia Pustilnik (9) said. It would have been more effective to publicize the consequences of food waste, rather than only the statistics on how much the school wastes, she said.

At the UD assembly on Tuesday, the Upper Division (UD) gathered to hear Ryan Andrews’ presentation “Eating to Prevent the Apocalypse.” Andrews, who teaches courses about food and water at SUNY Purchase, urged students and faculty to make conscious food choices, minimize waste, and to lower meat consumption.

After hearing Andrews’ speech, Jamie Berg (12) tried to eliminate dairy from his diet and reduce his livestock consumption, he said.

Others felt that asking students to change their diets is unrealistic. “It’s not an alternative I would consider, especially because I’m still growing,” Euwan Kim (11) said.

Wednesday’s focus was to limit the amount of energy consumed. In an email to the entire school, Bomwell asked teachers to “please consider conducting classes with the lights off.”

Danielle Paulson’s (10) English class met in the dark. “It demonstrated that making a small effort to change an ordinary routine can make a difference,” she said.

Green Action Week concluded on Thursday with a crusade to reduce transportation emissions on the commute to school. 60 students and faculty signed a pledge vowing to not take a car to school on Thursday.

The pledge inspired Paul Wang (11) to walk to school instead of driving, his usual mode of transportation. Walking was his way of participating in the initiative and an enjoyable experience that he will continue beyond Green Action Week, he said.

The changes that Green Action Week tried to implement were not always statistically measurable, Bomwell said. Rather, the importance of the week is to ensure that sustainability is a topic in conversations and that people are aware of the issue, he said.

To increase the effectiveness of Green Action Week in the future, Liliana Greyf (9) said sustainability needs more attention.  “The level of engagement that students receive through emails is minimal,” Berg said. He suggests that future Green Action Weeks be introduced in the classroom.

The Committee hopes that the efforts begun during Green Action Week will continue beyond the week. “Sustainability affects every single person, so how can we not pay attention to it?” DePreter said.