The friendly atmosphere emanating from Jason Maas-Baldwin’s room every Monday at lunch is a product of the Environmental Club, sprinkled with students sitting on tables, eating from reusable containers and working to better Carmel High’s campus.
And their agenda has been composed of just that—finding ways to make Carmel High more environmentally conscious. Their main focus recently has been on the development of the science building and the preservation of plans to keep it green.
The building has the potential to be green in its design, but the utilization of this potential will be in the hands of the Environmental Club presently.
“Currently they scrapped most of the green things about the building,” sophomore David Warner says.
“I feel pretty angry,” says junior Ethan Atkins of the stripping away of green aspects of the construction. “It shows the priorities of the school. But a lot of the things that they cut they said we could raise money that we could have them.”
The club hopes to gain enough money to buy LED lights to replace fluorescent bulbs in the science building, to implement a cistern to collect rainwater to use for irrigation, to prevent it from polluting the ocean, and eventually to purchase solar panels in order to make the building as green as can be.
The club hosted a screening of the film Chasing Ice on Earth Day in the theater and collected donations at the door to go toward purchasing various items in order to utilize the green potential of the new building. Unfortunately, the power went out during the screening, and those who attended were not able to see the film in full. Even with only about ten minutes shown, the club was still able to gather $777.
The club is planning on throwing a benefit concert to raise more funds for the building’s development in September. The group has also focused on creating a compost program at CHS, which was put into effect last semester and continues to develop.
“We collect compost every week, but it’s still a work in progress,” says sophomore Avery Yeatman, who joined the club earlier this year.
Carmel High also saw its first “Zero Waste Week” recently, which sought to educate and promote students about how they treat the earth, encouraging use of reusable lunch containers and environmentally-conscious actions.
“I can’t say that those activities had a measurable difference in the rate of recycling or the crude amount of trash,” says Maas-Baldwin of Zero Waste Week. “However, our study wasn’t really robust enough to draw a conclusion one way or the other.”
Despite the inconclusive effects of the program, club members remain optimistic. The Environmental Club has worked especially hard over the past few years to develop the recycling program at Carmel High. Recent efforts started four years ago, when the club bought and placed all over campus the greenish-gray bins around campus.
“It kind of made it—hopefully—more convenient to recycle,” Maas-Baldwin says. “Also, they’re kind of more aesthetically-pleasing than your standard, regular blue bin.”
In order to keep track of these bins and the waste of Carmel High students, trash audits on part of the Environmental Club have occurred in intervals both this school year and last school year.
“They’re to find out what’s going in the trash that shouldn’t be or what’s going in the recycling that should be in the trash,” senior Lana Richards says. “So last year we wanted to make it really clear what can be recycled and what can’t.”
As of last year, signs were posted in order to inform students of what should be recycled and what should be thrown out. These signs feature photographs of trash items that would be seen in the cafeteria, so as to make it specific to Carmel High, and can still be observed near almost any bin outside of a classroom.
Carmel High, with the help of staff and students, has tried to adopt environmentally-conscious ways, even being certified as NOAA Ocean Guardian school this year and adopting filtration stations in order to reduce the use of single-use plastic water bottles.
“Another thing we’ve been trying to deal with is just people getting stuff in the trash,” says Maas-Baldwin, noting that the staff has been supportive in achieving that goal. “Those things that don’t get put in a bin ultimate end up in the ocean, in the National Marine Sanctuary right out there.”
To accomplish this, half of last year’s freshmen even attended a field trip to the sanitary landfill in order to instill awareness in how to properly manage waste through recycling certain materials and reducing consumption of items that commonly end up in the trash.
From student behavior to the ability of the CHS campus to be green in building composition, the Environmental Club is working day by day to change the way that Carmel High and the community interact with the world around them.