As Aloye Oshotse dumped out old homework assignments, scratch paper and plastic water bottles from a classroom’s recycling bin, a stack of sticky, half-eaten pancakes tumbled into the bin. While Oshotse, a co-leader of Environment Coalition of Students, felt disgusted upon his discovery of old food, finding trash in recycling bins is a fairly ordinary occurrence for members of ECOS.
ECOS is one of the many environmentally friendly activities that SJS students take part in on campus. Under the sponsorship of chemistry teacher Patty Carr and history teacher Amy Malin, members of ECOS collect the campus’s recycling every Friday at 3:45 before taking it to the Lower School dumpsters.
Junior Lauren Erasmus, a co-leader of ECOS, said that people should be aware of how they impact the environment and should clean up after themselves around campus. She and sophomore Edward Chen, an ECOS co-leader, encourage students to be more conscientious of what they put in recycling bins because the number of non-recyclable items in the bins makes the process both unpleasant and inefficient.
“[ECOS finds] a lot of trash and products you cannot recycle in the bins, like water cups from the cafeteria, food plates and candy wrappers,” Erasmus said. “Students could eat from the washable plates as an alternative.”
While ECOS is the School’s primary environmentally-focused club, some community service projects also promote helping the environment. These projects include partnering with the Herman Park Conservatory, tending to the gardens at Berry Elementary School and, most recently, planting trees at Mulberry Park in memory of Will McKone.
Junior Lexie Farnell found another way to volunteer to help the environment through Urban Harvest, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with local farmers to run community gardens in underprivileged areas and educate children on growing fresh produce. Farnell leads a small group of student volunteers every Saturday in the Taub lot, where they aid the local farmers and restaurants represented at Urban Harvest. Vendors sell foods like eggs, meat, vegetables, crepes and breakfast tacos.
Farnell, who heard about the project through National Charity League, was eager to get involved because it took place at Taub lot, a familiar part of her community. According to Farnell, Urban Harvest allows local farmers and vendors to sell their products, which are typically more expensive than those sold by ‘mass producers.’
“The smaller organizations at the Farmers Market are impactful because they are primarily focused on the environment when they sell and promote their goods,” Farnell said.
Many SJS students, including junior Athena Adrogué, volunteer for Urban Harvest at Citrus Fest, the local fruit-tree sale, by cutting up and distributing fruits, such as limes, oranges, grapefruits and kumquats.
Since the Farmer’s Market is at the Taub lot, Farnell reached out to Bahr to promote volunteering at Urban Harvest. Adrogué, who showed interest in volunteering at Urban Harvest, also became involved with the Fruit Tree sale. Adrogué attended a “fruit tree” orientation where she was taught about the selling of different types of pomegranate trees.
Adrogué believes that more SJS students should learn new ways to benefit the environment, whether that’s through ECOS or tending to fruit-trees at Urban Harvest.
“It is important that we continue to help the environment through community service,” Adrogué said. “We should not abandon that aspect of service because often times it’s easy to just focus on the humanity part.”
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