One small step for the environment, one giant leap for Marian-kind

Opinion by Kayla Gornall

Whether it’s the ever changing classroom temperature, the treacherous walk up from soph lot (or wherever I could squeeze my car), Marian rumors, my past four years at Marian have been nothing short of a good time.

High school was fun! I made friends, took interesting classes and learned from the amazing teachers here. Besides the fact I never took a class on how to be a sea turtle and didn’t have any teachers who wore a fedora or flower glasses daily, this school provided me with a perfect environment to flourish.

The environment that is not flourishing, you may ask? The one right outside our windows.

One of my favorite parts of Marian’s school day is lunch, yet, the styrofoam plates and bowls and amount of plastic cups and utensils get in the way of me fully enjoying these precious moments.

Day by day, styrofoam and plastic build up in our landfills and oceans. Styrofoam is the enemy of all trash, for it will never decompose. Plastic is somewhat better because it is recyclable, but it still takes several decades or even centuries to decompose if it is mindlessly thrown in the trash.

kayla earth day
Illustration by Kayla Gornall

When considering the price alone, styrofoam dishes are cheaper than plastic, and plastic is cheaper than reusable plates. However, purchasing reusable dishes is more economical in the long run. Unlike plates and utensils that are thrown away after only one use, reusable items stay in the kitchen to be used for lunch the next day, and the next, and the next! It’s almost like a paycheck from the birds.

Personally, I have seen an increasing amount of reusable Starbucks cups and metal straws used by students. While these efforts help immensely, bigger steps must be taken in order to keep this movement alive. Marian has begun planning to do just that.

Our administration is currently discussing ways to incorporate a cost-effective program that focuses on sustainable practices similar to those at other sustainable high schools.

Duchesne sets an example of earth-friendly lunches. With recycling, composting, and locally-sourced food, the students are able to divert waste by 78 percent and lower carbon emissions. I find it admirable that they were the first school in Omaha to compost. The school set a goal to become completely waste free by 2030, which would be a tremendous feat for any high school. Duchesne teaches the community and students that even though the transition to greener lifestyle takes time, it is doable and notably worth it.

My friend and fellow nature-lover Becca Townley is the co-president of the Sustainability Club at Marian. She visited Duchesne to take a look at their earth-friendly programs and was inspired by their theological approach to being sustainable. Many times climate change and environmental issues become political,but it is not whether you are liberal or conservative. It is a theological issue; the success and future of our earth is dependent on our respect for all life forms.

Stop the arguments, the environment cannot wait.

The plastic eating utensils, salad containers, and styrofoam plates have got to go.  The planet must be treated with the respect it deserves; there is no planet B. It is our duty as inhabitants of the earth to do everything in our power to help it.

It is not someone else’s problem.

As the trash bins overflow and the weather patterns continue to confuse, I believe Marian is smart to take steps to help. Administrative policies will help enable students to reduce their carbon footprint, and the students will learn how to treat the earth right. A more sustainable school would help create happy habits in students and promote an overall happier earth.

Students must embrace the coming change with open arms. Change is not easy, but it is necessary. Returning students have a duty to ensure sustainability in Marian in the future.

With a new cafeteria and lunchroom next fall, it should be easy to start everyone in the right direction. We can help create and encourage a greener planet.

Our school has a future for its students and for the environment.

Although Marian is only one small high school in Nebraska, changes here could create a chain reaction elsewhere. It is time to add caring for the environment to the list of the life lessons women learn.

Marian will soon instill an awareness for the environment and effects of our habits on the young women here and, in turn, the rest of the planet. I know that I am leaving with that awareness. Join me so you can, too!

Have an opinion?  Agree with Kayla?  Disagree?  Have another suggestion for the administration or lunch personnel?  Leave it in the comments below.

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