Environmental Club Responds to Critics in Letter to HHS
NOTE: The following letter is in response to an article published by the Broadside entitled Leading By Example Rather Than By Mandate.
Dear Hanover High School,
The Environmental Club would like to respond to the Broadside’s recent article “Leading By Example, Rather Than By Mandate: May 12, 2016.”
We would first like to address the title and main idea of the article. The accusation that we ‘mandate’ environmental consciousness instead of exemplifying it, is simply due to a lack of understanding regarding what we do!The Environmental Club ensures that there are recycling bins next to every trash can in every room in the school. There is a recycling common ground that sorts through and manages recycling every Thursday. We have over thirty volunteers who manage a classroom compost bucket, and students from the club empty the big bins in the atrium and the cafe every day after school. Our club started the composting program four years ago and has since put compost buckets in the majority of the classrooms in our school, decreasing food waste, preventing valuable nutrients from ending up in a landfill, and mitigating climate change. We also organize Earth Day activities every year, with every fourth year being Trash on the Lawn Day. Earth Day, which garners participation from about a quarter of our students each year, consists of field trips, guest speakers, town ‘green-up,’ and other events in which students can learn about our impact on the planet, as well as visit unique local ecosystems. Through managing recycling and composting programs, and organizing an Earth Day celebration, we feel that we are leading by example.
We understand that the language used in the poster we put up on the bridge after Trash on the Lawn Day may have been strong, but that was the point. The “edgy attention seeking gimmick” was a way to shock people into realizing that we don’t handle our waste responsibly. Working to further a cause rooted in activism, seeking attention from the school community is one of our primary goals; our job is to create awareness. The tone was intentionally in-your-face. We wish that we didn’t have to resort to an aggressive tone, but the HHS community needs to step up. Hanover prepares its students for the world beyond high school by teaching us to be responsible, civic-minded citizens. We all have a responsibility to be conscious about our impact on the environment, even through simple measures like composting a banana peel and recycling a Coop container. While this year’s Trash on the Lawn Day showed that our efforts are certainly making progress, it also revealed the great disparity between the materials that are potentially recyclable or compostable and those that are actually recycled by students. Encouraging students to be responsible and using harsh words to increase awareness seems necessary given the ever increasing demands we are placing on our planet’s finite resources.
The Environmental Club has neither the power nor the desire to mandate anything. The signs were put there to make people aware of the lack of responsibility we have seen after hauling out trash, recycling, and compost, weighing these materials, and examining what was correctly disposed of. In response to the point about Trash on the Lawn Day in which we “essentially occup[ied] the entire school in order to promote [our] platforms,” the truth is we occupied only the front lawn. During science class, every student visited Trash on the Lawn and the Extinct Species Cemetery. Many students remarked throughout the day that they were unaware that our planet is undergoing a mass extinction caused by humans, and were equally surprised to see how much trash we generate in one day.
We know that there is more we can do to increase awareness. Next year we hope to work more on the education side, putting out initiatives, videos, infographics, or articles about composting, recycling, carpooling, and more. Ultimately, we do not want to have to remind people to lift up one cover on a bucket in order to put their lunch leftovers into the compost instead of the trash. We are working towards a Hanover High School community that is aware of the everyday impact we have on the world we live in and how we can make that impact more positive. We sincerely hope that anyone with questions or concerns about the Environmental Club will attend one of our meetings, held every Monday in room 226.
The Environmental Club