Omaha students give sustainability a try; making change one step at a time

EmilySalzman

At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, Marian’s administration decided to invest in a new sustainability program which added composting to the daily lunchtime routine for students. With this addition to the school, Marian got the chance to expose students to the reality of living a more sustainable lifestyle and how beneficial being sustainable is for the environment.

Though this addition is a great way for all students to participate in making the school community more eco-friendly, there are many other ways that Marian students can get involved in sustainability in the Omaha community. One group in particular, which was just recently formed and has already made its mark on the city of Omaha, is Students for Sustainability (SFS).

SFS was founded in 2019 by recent Mercy graduate Cate Kelly. “The environmental destruction I witnessed happening around the world and the lack of responses to climate change from leadership made me so angry that I decided to do something myself!” Kelly said. The group is made up of about 30 students from schools all around Omaha. Some of these schools include: Marian, Creighton Prep, Westside, Central, Millard North, Duchesne, Mercy and Concordia.

Since its start, SFS has been working to bring the issue of climate change in Omaha to the attention of local government officials including Governor Pete Ricketts, Mayor Jean Stothert and the entire Omaha City Council. A few of these efforts have included petitioning for the Omaha plastic bag ban- which would ban the use of single use plastic bags in stores all around the Omaha area- writing letters to elected officials and those who are running for public office about the importance of having a sustainable community, and rallying in front of the courthouse in solidarity with the worldwide climate strikes that went on for much of last year.

SFS is currently planning some big events coming up in the near future that Marian girls will be able to get involved in. The current president of SFS, Camille Beaulieu, a senior at Westside, says, “Currently, SFS is focusing on the Second Annual Omaha Youth Climate Strike. It will be Friday, Sept. 25 at 9 a.m. This is a great way for high schoolers to connect with the community and tell local legislators how you feel and what is important to you.” 

This event is once again going to be in unity with the global school strike started by Swedish student and climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

To join SFS, students can reach out to the group through the SFS Instagram (@omahasfs) and voice their interest in becoming a part of the organization. If they would prefer to just come and support the different events that SFS hosts, they can go to the official website (studentsforsustainability.com) and keep an eye out for the information that will be posted for each event. However, joining SFS is most definitely not the only way that students can get involved with creating a more eco-friendly environment. 

“Writing letters to your representatives in support of climate action, and against fossil fuels is also beneficial. When you turn 18, VOTE for candidates pledging to take climate action. The first step is the most important part; raising awareness of the severity of the issue of climate change. So talk to your family and friends and try to make small changes in your daily life. It’s more important to have lots of people practicing sustainability imperfectly than a few perfectly,” Beaulieu said.

Marian girls have an opportunity to make change in both the Marian community and the greater city of Omaha. When students take action, they have the potential to make a huge difference in their local community that will benefit all who live there and could ensure a healthy environment that is suitable for living in the future.

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