By Remi Matza
Climate change and pollution are two growing issues in society that we all hear about on a daily basis. We see images of the ocean full of plastic and of polar bears dying as their environment melts away. We are shown videos of environmentalists begging us to change the way we treat the Earth. Exposure to these issues inspires us to change our lifestyles; however, many of us buy single-use plastic water bottles at school and simply throw them away instead of recycling them, telling ourselves that just one bottle won’t do much harm. Unfortunately, this scenario is all-too-familiar to most of us. We want to make a change and help to save our planet, but we are so caught up in our ways that we cannot break our bad habits. Luckily, one group of dedicated students at Byram Hills is making strides to create a sustainable community at our high school: The Byram Hills Green Team.
According to Ms. Bogren, the faculty advisor and Green Team leader, the club “is dedicated to improving the environment and advocating for positive change and the improvement of our school’s sustainability practices.” She believes that, “Even if we change only one person’s behavior over the course of his/her lifetime, we will have done our job.” In other words, while ending climate change and pollution is an extremely arduous challenge, by inspiring students at Byram Hills to be more eco-friendly, the Green Team will have completed their mission. Additionally, sophomore Jane Zeltner described the club’s efforts as aiming “to enlighten people on various ways to contribute to helping the Earth and living more environmentally-friendly lifestyles.” The Green Team is solely aiming to make a deep impact on the way we live our daily lives and make students more aware of how they can change their habits for the better of our environment.
After learning more about this club, I have discovered how much time and effort the Green Team has devoted to its cause that often goes unnoticed. They have made many changes, from improvements as simple as distributing blue recycling bins throughout our school to large advancements such as the establishment of TerraCycle. No matter how large or small, however, one thing is very clear to me: the Green Team is definitely a group to look up to.
How many of you bring or buy a bag of chips or popcorn for lunch every day? I’m sure that many of you do, but do you ever consider where those bags go when you finish eating? Maybe they make their way to the ocean where 100 million marine animals die annually due to plastic in their habitats. Or maybe they end up in landfills where they will lie decomposing slowly for thousands of years, releasing harmful toxins and poisoning the surrounding environment. This is where TerraCycle comes in. TerraCycle is a program “which recycles single-use ‘salty snack’ bags and turns them into durable plastic products,” says Ms. Bogren. The Green Team has introduced this revolutionary recycling program to Byram Hills and hopes to enforce it with the use of the garbage-sorting tables that the team has already installed. TerraCycle can be a game-changer for sustainability here at Byram. So, the next time you eat a bag of chips, be mindful of the efforts of the Green Team, and recycle the package right way!
In addition to TerraCycle, the Green Team has drastically changed multiple aspects of our school. For instance, scientists have estimated that anywhere between 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws appear on shorelines around the world. However, I am proud to report that the Green Team has put an end to our school’s contribution to those alarming statistics by banning the purchase of plastic straws in the cafeteria. Furthermore, installing water refilling stations and, most recently, running a used battery and used light bulb drive, are more of the Green Team’s excellent efforts to improve our community here at Byram Hills.
At the start of this article, I explained a scenario that many of us are familiar with. My hope is that, by the end of this article, you have gained an understanding that one plastic bottle WILL do harm. Putting your chip bag in the wrong bin WILL worsen the environment. We must learn from the Green Team and understand that we have only one Earth, so we must protect and celebrate it.