Sustainability at Sharon High School (Part 2)

By Charlotte Pototsky, member of the SSC Zero Waste and Youth Committee, with a few edits from SSC Founder Dr. Ricky Stern

Engaging High School Students in Ideas About Sustainability (Part 2)

As you may remember – a few months ago I set out to discover what my classmates were doing regarding the idea of sustainability. Here are some thoughts from more members of Sharon High.

Shreya Gorrepati, a freshman, says, “What I do regularly to have a more sustainable lifestyle is recycling. I always donate my old clothes, and I try to convince other people to do these things. I am aware that these things do nothing to take away the carbon footprint that is made by huge industries. But, at the least, I believe my efforts raise awareness and spread knowledge about the global warming crisis.” This was the reason I joined the SHS Environmental Club.

Shreya Gorrepati is correct! Donating material offsets the production of clothes because it decreases demand. Even better, by giving your clothes directly to others, you avoid the danger of those donated items going to a landfill. And you are also preventing someone from buying something (e.g. fast fashion), made by a huge manufacturer.

This leads to one of my favorite ideas: One way to save the planet even more effectively is to buy your own clothes second hand. There is so much already out there, that it is unnecessary to go to a chain store and buy cheap clothing that likely benefits big companies who produce big amounts of waste.

Another freshman, Samah Hamid, told me, “On a day-to-day basis, I try to live a more sustainable lifestyle by regularly recycling as much as I can, keeping certain unsustainable foods out of the house, and using the least amount of plastic possible. I then joined the SHS Environmental Club because I want to make even more of an impact than the actions listed above. I believe that the world is currently going through horrible, but preventable situations. I desire to help!”

These are awesome action steps and tasks we should all be doing in our everyday lives. Good job, Samah!

Aaron Tamkin, an SHS senior, says, “I joined the Environmental Club because I wanted to be part of a community of people my own age who care about the planet as much as I do. My goal is to try to help the Earth as much as possible. I am also a member of the Communications Committee of the Sustainable Sharon Coalition (SSC).

Some of the changes I have made include driving less often, bringing my reusable water bottle everywhere I go, and rarely going out to eat in a place where single use materials are given to customers. I also buy organic produce from local farms instead of industrial produce, since the former produces less greenhouse emissions as a result of my suppers! At my house we also have a compost bin and two recycling bins to help reduce waste! Although this hasn’t happened yet, I am looking into a more sustainable toilet and possibly showerhead to lower our water use even more.”

These are all such cool action steps! Living a sustainable lifestyle is definitely a team effort for every family. It is so interesting to hear the variety of goals my peers have in terms of helping the planet.

Melissa Tian, another senior, shares her efforts: “I regularly try to minimize my impact on the environment by living more sustainably at home. For example, I no longer support fast fashion clothing brands. I used to shop from i.e., Hollister and Forever 21, but instead, I buy secondhand from an app, where people sell their gently used clothes, called Depop. Also, I try to slowly influence people in my life to follow sustainable alternatives in their lives. In the Asian-American community, a type of drink called boba tea is very popular, especially amongst me and my friends. But purchasing boba tea results in a large amount of plastic waste. This is because this treat always comes with many cups and straws. So, in order to combat this, I have been gifting reusable boba tea cups to my friends for their birthdays, and have been encouraging them to use those instead. These are baby steps, but small steps in the right direction are better than no steps! This mentality is why I joined the Environmental Club. I want to be able to find ways to push our community to work towards a more sustainable future!”

Such a unique and creative response! Doing anything we can to help the planet is important, no matter how big or small. A journey always begins with that one first step.

Lastly, Ms. Burke, the Environmental Science teacher at SHS and the advisor for The Environmental Club shared her experience too: “I garden. I love growing my own vegetables and herbs. I teach my children how to garden too. I compost. I have a small compost crock in my kitchen that I fill with vegetable and fruit scraps and then when the small crock is filled, I empty it into a large compost barrel in my yard. In the spring I mix the compost into my garden. I never use fertilizer in my yard or garden. I use garlic and onion scraps to deter animals from eating my plants and make a perimeter around the garden with crushed up eggshells to keep garden pests away. I recycle as much as I can, both at work and at home. I put plastic bags in a separate area so that I can drop them off at the grocery store to recycle them. Also, now all big stores use and take cloth shopping bags (the ban is stopped). I have had MassSave do an energy audit of my home, and we added insulation, changed my heating systems, and had them do weather sealing to name a few things. I use my wood burning fireplace with a built-in fan to heat my home, as much as possible, so that I can reduce the amount of oil I use.”

These are more wonderful practices! It is great to see people of all age groups participating in lowering their footprint.

Clearly, we members of the Sharon High School Environmental Club are doing our part. This article was intended to not only show how much high-schoolers care about the future, but to share their insights and ideas, as well. If we can do it — so can you!

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts on clean energy or how you live sustainably. Here are three ways to make your viewpoints known and keep the conversation going:

  1. Join SSC the first Wednesday of every month
  2. Visit or comment on my personal blog here or YouTube channel here.
  3. Support the Sharon High School Environmental Club by signing up for a FREE home energy audit here.

Sustainable Sharon Coalition

We inspire, educate, connect, and catalyze our community to protect the planet.