Global climate change has already had observable effects on the environment. Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner. Effects that scientists had predicted in the past would result from global climate change are now occurring. Earth has already warmed by about 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, since the 19th century, before the industry started to boom. Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. A warmer world — even by a half-degree Celsius — has more evaporation, leading to more water in the atmosphere. Such changing conditions put our agriculture, health, water supply and more at risk. With all this said, it's not too late to slow the pace of climate change as long as we act today.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
Realizing the urgency to act on climate change, we started an environmental club at our high school in order to execute conservation projects. We implemented a composting program, which reduces our carbon footprint by over one ton annually. We also placed faucet aerators on the school's faucets which save our school thousands of gallons of water from being wasted. We also reduced our lighting and Air Conditioning usage throughout the day by explaining to teachers the importance of conserving energy. We expanded the school's recycling program by installing more bins and encouraging students to recycle. Currently, we are in the process of implementing these ideas to our local city. We think that all schools and communities across the nation should adopt the environmentally friendly standards that we have set. These may seem like small changes, but they make a big difference when done on a large scale. Below is a summary of the projects that can easily be implemented at your local school/community.
A great way to advocate for environmental conservation and make a change in your school or community is to start an environmental club/group that brings together like-minded individuals who work together on various environmental initiatives. We started an environmental club at our school, and it has grown to over 40 members.
To learn about more steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint:
Composting 1 lb of waste can save 3.8 lbs of carbon dioxide. 50-70% of waste thrown in the trash can actually be composted, greatly reducing our greenhouse emissions. We have implemented a robust compost program at our school that saves nearly 20 pounds of organic waste a week. We are also currently working with our town council to implement a city-wide food scraps program that will divert 30% of organic waste from ending up in landfills. Click to learn more about how you can easily implement a compost program in your school, workplace, or house.
Although our school already has a recycling program, many students still do not recycle. We are promoting recycling through social media campaigns, infographics, and posters which we have placed around the school. We have expanded the recycling program by adding several bins to areas of high traffic around the school. By measuring the net increase of recycled waste, we can calculate carbon emission reduction. Click to learn more about how you can implement a recycling program at your school or workplace.
Classrooms in our school originally had lights on all day. Staff signed pledges to turn off lights when they leave the room (ex: during lunch). We have also talked to janitors that clean the school at night to turn off the lights when they are finished cleaning the classrooms instead of waiting for them to automatically turn off hours later. Viewing solar energy usage data our schools provides, we can calculate our energy/emission savings. Click here to have your teachers sign a pledge to turn off the lights when their classrooms are not in use.
Conserving water is one of the most practical and effective conservation efforts. Because of climate change, California is getting hit with back to back droughts which deplete our water sources throughout the state. We wanted to make sure our school was doing its part in conserving water, so we installed faucet aerators on all the school facets which reduced our water usage by over 30 percent. We have also promoted water conservation throughout the school with infographics and public service announcements on the school news show. Click here to learn easy ways you can conserve water.
Since we live in the California valley, cooling and heating our school requires large amounts of energy year-round.
We are working with staff to reduce our energy usage. For example, opening the windows in the morning can bring the cool air in the classroom which will reduce the amount of Air Conditioning needed throughout the day. Click here to find ways you can use less AC.
We are promoting cleaner ways of commuting (ex: carpooling, bus, etc) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Even if there isn't a lot of public transportation near your school, carpooling is a great way you can reduce your carbon footprint. Click here to learn about public transportation near you.