Last year the entire Cherry Hill School District adopted a sustainability plan. Each of the 19 schools was to focus on a specific environmental subject. East was asked to focus on energy reduction, which includes things as small as shutting off a light when not in the room. As Earth Week is this week, each day will be designated to a certain aspect of helping the environment.
Monday will be “Meatless Monday,” encouraging students to go vegetarian for one day. Going without meat benefits the environment because most of our meat comes from factory farms, which pollute the air and emit CO2 gases. Buying less meat would help to reduce pollution. In the future, the environmental classes hope this could turn into once per week, or even more often for some students.
Tuesday will be “Trash-less Tuesday,” which entails not having any trash to throw out if you pack a lunch. Students can easily do this by bringing reusable items to carry their lunch, and especially by bringing reusable water bottles, which they can fill up using the cafeteria’s water filtration system.
Wednesday is Earth Day, and will be titled “No Water Bottle Wednesday,” encouraging people to use a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic waste. Students are encouraged to wear green to support Earth Day and Earth Week as a whole.
Thursday will be “School Beautification Day,” as the environmental students clean up trash around the school grounds. Environmental Studies teacher, Mrs. Gina Oh, said, “There will be 180 environmental students cleaning, which will hopefully draw attention to Earth Week and inspire other students to actively participate in positively affecting the environment.”
Oh encourages all teachers to have class outside on Thursday, or at least once this week.
Friday will be “Plant A Seedling Day,” on which environmental studies students will be planting seedlings that they have stored in the greenhouse, into the garden beds outside of C110.
Oh said, “I care because I don’t think humanity will be around in a couple hundred years if we continue to act the way we are. People don’t realize how much they can do to help. Some people want to do more, but don’t know where to find the information. I hope that students and parents go online and find out what they can do to help our community in an ecological way.”
Sustainable Cherry Hill is a very active group that works with the schools and in the community. The group has allowed Cherry Hill to go very far in doing all that we can to benefit the environment. Cherry Hill is applying for Sustainable Jersey certification, which is the statewide version of Sustainable Cherry Hill, and would help us to increase efforts even further in the community.
Environmental student, Loreena Avery (’15), initially became interested in the environment when she felt that there was a problem with how sustainable East was.
“The school wasn’t recycling enough and I wanted to help,” said Avery.
Avery discussed the matters with Lori Braunstein, a Sustainable Cherry Hill leader. They decided to meet with the township and organized a waste audit to analyze the waste removal in the school. Her personal goals are to compost more organic materials and reduce waste, especially plastic, at East. She developed the East Green Team, which is a group of passionate environmental students who meet to discuss environmental issues at East and in Cherry Hill. As seniors, they hope to make a big impact with this year’s Earth Week activities.
An Earth Week student pledge will be making its way around during lunch breaks and is also available online here.
The environmental students hope that with this pledge, they can encourage other students to recycle more, even if it’s not as convenient as throwing a water bottle or piece of paper in the trash. Recycling paper will help to lessen the number of trees being cut down, and recycling water bottles and using fewer of them will help to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills, which will benefit the entire ecosystem.
Avery said, “Many people in today’s society just think about the economic benefits of overdeveloping land by cutting down forests, as they want the immediate source of money. They don’t think about the harm they are causing the future, and that kind of thinking is causing our society to move in the wrong direction. East is heading in the right direction, and although we are still in the early stages, Cherry Hill as a whole is doing a great job and making a very positive effort.”
Avery hopes that after seeing and hearing about all of the things that students can do to help, they will start to be more conscious about the future and will think ahead to benefit the environment.
Oh will be using Twitter in hopes of reaching other students and people in the community by environmental kids retweeting and using the hashtag to spread the word of Earth Week on social media. Follow @CHEenviro and #CHEEarthWeek2015 for Earth Week information on Twitter.