Sustainability Committee promotes the greener initiative

Taraneh Moeni

High schools around the nation are beginning to form committees in an effort to weaken their carbon footprints and educate students to be more environmentally aware and conscious of their individual as well as school-wide impact on our world. Bellarmine Preparatory School formed a sustainability committee during the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

Each Ignatian Formation required two representatives to participate in the sustainability club. All of these representatives provide their assistance and hard work in an effort to guide their peers towards sustainable actions under the leadership of juniors Sam Abraham and Katin Kendrena.

So what inspired them to dedicate their time to lead the sustainability committee? Why did they choose this path out of the many leadership opportunities provided at Bellarmine? Kendrena and Abraham say, “Ultimately, I think we were looking for a way to get more student involvement in sustainability. It turns out that we have a lot of young activists among us that were enthused about getting involved!

The idea for the Sustainability Reps actually came from the larger Sustainability Committee, which is made up of faculty and students. Originally, it was intended to be a subset of the Sustainability Committee, but after we discussed it, we realized that the Reps needed to be student-led and student-driven to help encourage the student body to take action. That gave us a pretty great result; now the Sustainability Reps group is 60 strong and counting!”

 

The sustainability committee released its mission statement earlier this month. It reads: “We are a student-led group dedicated to developing sustainable initiatives to institute long-lasting change at Bellarmine.”

When asked about the nature of this statement, Kendrena and Abraham said this: “The mission statement is intentional in its wording. We stated clearly that this was a group of students who were working to ensure that their voices were heard. Far too often power is taken from the hands of students. But sustainability is an issue that especially affects youth. The negligence of today will cost our generation. Youth advocacy and activism is the only way to preserve our ways of life.”

They continue, “The latter half of the mission statement is significant in its mention of ‘initiatives.’ In this past year, everyone has done a lot of talking. While we acknowledge the difficulties that COVID-19 has presented, we’ve been disillusioned with the inactivity that many of us have taken up. Talk is cheap, but actions speak volumes. We hope that through a combination of tangible actions and advocacy, we can make a difference here at Bellarmine.”

So what specific action steps has the sustainability committee taken so far, and how successful has the response been from students? “We are mainly focused around education and projects — that is concrete actions we can take to help spread the word about environmentalism. First, we did education around composting and helped students learn what goes into the compost vs. landfill vs. recycle. To supplement this, we had Reps stand by the waste bins throughout February to help encourage students to recycle and compost when applicable. We also conducted a very successful Beach Cleanup at Titlow Beach! We had many volunteers show up to help us out, and we hope to conduct another cleanup in the future.”

The work that is done here at Bellarmine is amazing, but consistency is key. Continually pushing for active change and always brainstorming ways to make Bellarmine environmentally conscious is just as important as initial plans. So what future plans or ideas does the sustainability committee plan on executing here on campus? Kendrena and Abraham say: “Our next initiative is water purity and our project is to install a rain garden — a much larger project than we have ever tackled before, but we are optimistic about the outcome! Though it will take a lot of work, we’re confident that an emphasis on sustainability can only positively impact Bellarmine as a whole. Since Earth Day is coming up, we also hope to have activities prepared to both celebrate and preserve the environment.”

The sustainability committee is doing the :ord’s work at Bellarmine Prep, and have chosen to dedicate part of their lives to leave the impact that they can on this school. They are a group working not only towards a more sustainable school, but they are working to normalize schools across the nation and the globe taking their own stand against this global environmental crisis. “We are so grateful for everyone that has supported us as individuals and as a committee: huge shout-out to [teachers] Mrs. Nuno, Mrs. White, and Mrs. Phillips for being our sustainable foundation of encouragement!”