Commentary

Environmental Club — Stewards in Action

Recognizing the urgency to act in protecting our planet, even if that means starting with our own small school

Boston's climate strike at City Hall Plaza drew a crowd of 10,000. Photo: Christian Morris

Daily News Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate & Environmental Stewards.

Just two years ago, Newburyport’s Environmental Club had four active members. However, at our past meeting, on Sept. 17, a group of 30 students sat down to discuss issues plaguing the high school and our community.

Why the sudden resurgence and gain in members?

Our generation is recognizing the urgency to act in protecting our planet, even if that means starting with our own small school. Environmental Club (E-Club) began with the intent of fostering a deeper understanding of how we can be conscious consumers, media users and stewards of the environment.

Over the past years, our club has collected batteries, markers, started composting at the high school and most importantly, installed five water bottle filling stations around the school.

These fillers eliminate the need for students to purchase the infamous Dasani single-use plastic bottles. E-Club President Noah Keller says, “There is an epidemic at our school of students mindlessly punching in their lunch combination to buy bottled water daily.”

Art Currier/Courtesy photo. Members of the Newburyport Environmental Club gathered at Plum Island Coffee Roasters recently for a meeting.

These fillers create a win-win-win. Students win because they don’t have to wait until lunch to quench their thirst; parents win because they aren’t wasting money; and most importantly, the Earth wins because plastic is avoided.

In order to achieve these accomplishments, a dedicated group of students has made a commitment. Despite the stereotypical tree-hugging, plant-eating, plastic-loathing climate crusaders our peers might think we are, NHS’ Environmental Club consists of a diverse group of students with varying levels of stewardship.

Most of us don’t really care if people eat red meat or sometimes forget to compost. The club exists primarily to educate others! For example, one of our first activities will be to design homemade compost bins along with a guide to hand out to classmates. This activity aligns nicely with our club’s goal to emphasize the importance of enjoying our Earth.

It’s no secret that the rise of media and popularity of smartphones has enabled students to access news stories with a few clicks. While the accessibility of these stories may seem like a blessing, these posts have caused additional stress.

Waking up and scrolling past a story of the Amazon rainforest burning, to a colorless coral reef, to a skeletal polar bear makes me feel like it is my responsibility to fix climate change, bring color back to the reefs and nourish polar bears back to health.

However, the Environmental Club has taught me that it’s equally important to engage in introspective practices of meditation, swimming or even napping in the grass.

Grounding ourselves and learning to appreciate nature can help remind us of why we fight for our political leaders to accept the era of the Green New Deal.

In fact, just this past Friday, some members of the Environmental Club left school to attend the Climate Strike in Boston. We marched in the streets with peers holding signs that read, “We’re skipping our lessons to teach you one” and “Denial is not policy.”

The day concluded with us entering the Statehouse to demand the declaration of a climate emergency and for the state to stop using fossil fuels and building fossil fuel infrastructure. E-Club member Cami Loignon-Gagnon pointed out after the march “the turnout of this Climate Strike was incredible compared to the one last spring. It’s time for our leaders to do their part.”

Although Newburyport High School’s environmental policies may not be on the news (yet!), we maintain our efforts to make change within our own community in order to progress nationally. The Environmental Club has plans to do just that.

Full article: https://www.newburyportnews.com/opinion/columns/commentary-environmental-club----stewards-in-action/article_e8db3b99-15a3-5f2c-9d3e-b62be5ecf80a.html
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about the author
Alyssa Keith

A senior at Newburyport High School in Newburyport, MA, Alyssa has attended Newburyport schools since grade 1. She is Vice President of her school’s Environmental Club and very active with GOMI (Gulf of Maine Institute). In July 2019, she became an intern for ACES allowing her become intimately involved in a variety of projects and activities related to the growth of the organization.


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