BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The issue of climate change is a serious issue that has been pushed to the forefront of politics on the national and global level. However, the war on climate change took on a youthful face when teen activist Greta Thunberg of Sweden, who sailed a boat from England to the US with only the use of solar panels and underwater turbines, appealed to the UN Climate Change Summit in New York.
Thurnberg urged young people to take action in the form of climate strikes. In late September, students across the world walked out of school and staged protests to raise awareness of the issue and demand more from politicians to protect the planet. Supervised by Environmental Science teachers Lara Mendenhall and Lisa Dhaibar, students at Governor Livingston participated in a smaller scale demonstration at the school to support the cause.
But in the wake of these protests, students are left wondering what Governor Livingston is doing to be more environmentally aware. In fact, there have been some additions to the school to promote a more green lifestyle.
The placement of paper recycling bins in classrooms will decrease the amount of paper trash coming out of the school. There are also recycling bins in other common usage areas of the school.
One more area in which the school is reducing its carbon footprint is in the cafeteria. Ryder Zimmerman, a sophomore, noted that “the cafeteria stopped using styrofoam trays, which were extremely harmful to the environment because they took forever to decompose.” These new trays are made from more biodegradable materials, which decay faster, reducing our landfill trash.
But being environmentally conscious also means thinking about food choices. Jane Mirvis, senior, said, “More vegan/ vegetarian food options should be constantly available, as it will give students and staff the opportunity to try these foods at a consistent rate.”
Cutting down meat consumption during lunch is something else that will combat some of the environmental issues. Many researchers believe the livestock industry has a detrimental effect on the environment by contributing to the greenhouse gas effect.
The school is also doing its part to educate students about being more environmentally conscious. It has increased its enrollment in environmental science classes by adding eight sections of the course, four of these being Advanced Placement (AP).
In today’s climate emergency, education is extremely important for the younger generations to learn what they could do to help. Olivia Mastria, a senior who is currently enrolled in AP Environmental Science said she is taking this class “to be educated about the issues we face in terms of our environment and to hopefully discover a passion for it.”
Another way the school is reducing its carbon footprint is by having professionals determine if energy and other resources are being used efficiently at the school. The administration uses these reports to adjust the resources accordingly.
Yet, there is still more the district could be doing.
Environmental Science teacher Ms. Lara Mendenhall has some ideas of what people should do to decrease the impact on the climate. To conserve energy, she thinks we should “open windows instead of using the air conditioning on a day to day basis.”
Although she added that 20 new trees have recently been planted on the grounds, Mendenhall said that the school could also look into planting more vegetation. Another step that could be taken is “replacing the grass with native plants.” This would entail removing grass and putting plants from this region there instead. In fact, this would be a simple solution as it would require less water and labor to be sustained.
It is important to continue to be educated on the dangers of climate change. The school and the students should take the lead from climate activist Thurberg to work to reduce the impact on the environment.