By LAURA JERNEGAN
A lthough the environment has always had an important impact on every human being, it is only in the past few decades that we have begun to realize that we need to protect it. Living on Martha’s Vineyard it is especially important. Protecting our Island sanctuary is a top priority; we must preserve the natural beauty that still exists. Even though we are only a tiny piece of the environment worldwide, the impact of changes made locally can be influential in making changes globally.
Students at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School have helped catalyze the Islandwide movement to think globally, act locally, through environmental projects, recycling and the beginnings of a greener school. The leadership course that I took for the first semester focused on recycling. We put blue recycling bins in every room throughout the school, including the cafeteria and front offices. Twice a week groups collected the recycling from designated sections of the school, and deposited it in the Allied Waste recycling receptacle outside the building. In the fall we also took two trips to State Beach for hourlong beach cleanups.
I was also involved in a committee within the leadership class to organize a Green Week at the high school. This weeklong appreciation for the environment was to consist of assemblies, facts of the day and rewards for students who rode bikes to school or carpooled to cut down on pollution. My group’s planning of Green Week was transferred to the new semester’s students and will hopefully be carried out in the spring.
The majority of the leaders of the recycling and green campaigns are seniors, including myself, which means they will not be here next year to continue with the progress that has already been made. Although this is a problem, it is also a great opportunity for us to take the knowledge we have acquired on our small Island and bring it wherever we find ourselves, whether it be college or elsewhere.
Next year I will be attending American University. The campus is the site of a new building, the School of International Services. This building was constructed on the basis of maximum energy production. From materials and lights to insulation, the majority of the materials used are environmentally friendly. The entire building will be a generator of energy as well as a school. I hope to become active in projects such as this one in college because I believe that generating energy while improving our eco-footprint is the most effective way to preserve the environment.
My entire new student orientation as well as the new student programs (NSP) at American is now eco-friendly. NSP is joining with Eco-Sense to put up bulletin boards around campus on sustainability. All new students will be given sustainable gifts at orientation, and all of NSP’s informational publications are printed on 100 per cent recycled paper. For these publications NSP has also eliminated the thousands of fliers given to new students and replaced them with CD-ROMs, and invested in printers that will automatically print double-sided sheets. These adaptations are ones that could easily be attained at the regional high school as well as offices and businesses Islandwide.
I will remember that my awareness and my actions started locally at the high school. It is important for students not to get discouraged by living on such a small Island because although it is small, it is still necessary to protect the natural beauty of it. If no one has the drive to begin a project, it will never be accomplished. All it takes is a few strong-willed individuals to begin an environmental protection movement in any area. High school students can be those individuals, if they are willing to work together to make our community more environmentally friendly. Maybe they will even go on to make an impact on a national and a global scale.