Sustainability takes center stage at Green Day


Courtesy of Vivian Coraci/Art Director

Michelle Grinberg, Contributing Writer

Upper Division (UD) students and faculty hosted and attended Green Day workshops ranging from pollution to plant propagation last Friday. The event, organized by Green HM, aimed to raise awareness about individual and community efforts to improve sustainability, Co-President Nia Huff (11) said.

UD history teacher and Green HM faculty advisor Dr. Ellen Bales stressed the importance of having a space in which the school community can hold conversations about climate change. Bales chose to attend a workshop centered on the correlation between COVID-19 and carbon emissions. “Although the pandemic has led to a significant reduction in carbon emissions it is not a sustainable way to address climate change,” she said. “We need systematic change to make a lasting impact.” 

One goal of the Green Day workshops was to debunk commonly accepted myths about the environment, Anusha Kumar (9) said. Kumar, who led a workshop on the impact that electric vehicles (EVs) have on the environment, created this workshop to show students that increased use of EVs is not necessarily the solution to gasoline emissions. “I thought, ‘What’s so special about electric cars that make them emission-free?’” she said. “I started researching them, and found that they still have a significant amount of emissions.”

Around 30 people attended Aaron Saroken’s (9) workshop entitled “Sustainability in Sports.” “The turnout was definitely unexpected, but I was very happy that so many people cared about this cause,” he said. Saroken hoped to educate other athletes on waste reduction practices. At practice, he often sees trash scattered along Alumni Field, Saroken said. “Small adjustments to everyday habits can have a meaningful impact on the climate.”

After Saroken presented his slideshow, attendees posed questions, Clio Rao (12) said. “It broke out into a really lively discussion where the audience steered the conversation,” she said. “They were especially interested in these seaweed capsules which can replace water bottles.”

To efficiently work towards a green future, large corporations must become more sustainable, UD English teacher Rebecca Bahr said. Bahr attended a workshop run by Madlyn Yoon (12) and Maya Westra (12) that offered creative solutions to hold companies accountable for their environmental practices, she said. “Especially for rising young adults as they think about graduating and, having money, a lot of people are interested in the stock market and it was interesting to see how that tied into the environment,” she said.

Huff and Co-Presidents Tyler Rosenberg (11) and Madlyn Yoon (12) began planning for Green Day two months ago. At the club’s meetings, members brainstormed ideas for workshops, although non-members were also welcome to host workshops, Huff said.

Throughout the planning process, the club faced logistical challenges, such as getting the school administration’s approval for the event and finding enough faculty members to supervise workshops, Huff said. However, the main worry was student engagement with the day, she said.

Club members were concerned about garnering enough interest in hosting workshops, Rosenberg said. “We wanted to have at least one day of workshops and were worried that we wouldn’t have enough people to fill all the spots,” she said. “Luckily, we had so much interest we had to double down on periods.”

While workshops in past years were held over the course of a week, the club opted to host only a single day of workshops this year in order to increase engagement and student involvement, Huff said. Though, this decision turned out to be a blessing in disguise, she said. “One day is very focused,” she said. “When it’s over the course of a week, it’s hard to get the turnout from the student body,” she said. Huff hopes that the event will remain one day long in future years. 

Next year, Huff hopes to host an assembly about Green Day and make participation in workshops mandatory, she said. “We would love to possibly have an event like a mandatory Green Day or something of a higher magnitude, but overall Green Day was a success,” she said.