Field Day is a truly special component of Marian tradition. You could ask every alumna about it, and they would be able to tell you their theme and recite some of their Demo to you, but there is a major problem surrounding this beloved tradition: waste.
Over the years, this dilemma has been more concerning to members of the Sustainability Club, so they made plans for a more sustainable Field Day. Although the need for more sustainable practices was urgent, it was a long and grueling process.
Many ideas were brought up, but it was hard to tackle this problem due to the different branches of waste. So, very few ideas were sent for approval due to the lack of foundation.
Mrs. Alee Cotton, the Sustainability Club moderator, said it had been “back and forth between the Sustainability Club, [Principal] Mrs. [Susie] Sullivan, and the Student Board,” to get the ideas approved. This caused the process to be drawn out over multiple years.
Finally, this year Sustainability Club’s original ideas were put into motion.
A new guideline passed to have a sustainability category on Walls, which in and of itself was a huge initiative. The initial idea was to add sustainability into Esprit de Corps, but since the category no longer held a point value, they changed their main focus to Walls.
“We initially wanted sustainability to earn points, but for now we are just starting,” junior Kenadie Rudloff said. Rudloff is one of the core Sustainability Club members and said that “one of the main goals [this year] is to limit waste within the Walls category, to recycle, or to use the orange bags [for flimsy plastics like saran wrap] as much as we can during cleanup.” The sustainability girls stood around the gym and helped direct what could be recycled or reused on Walls clean up day.
With that end goal in mind, it started with ordering materials, which was stated in the Walls sustainability guidelines. The Walls committee was supposed to have members of the sustainability crew on it to help guide the group to make more sustainable choices when ordering materials. Cotton said, “As a school during Field Week, consumption is important. We can buy our own materials and if we are more mindful of what we order during this week of all weeks, we could pull off some amazing things.”
The Sustainability Club also found ways to benefit our community. They talked with local middle schools to see if they would be interested in taking parts of Walls for their theater/arts program.
Cotton and Rudloff brought to light that there are many sustainable ways to go about Field Day.
For example, the Field Day closet is an option for materials for Walls and mascots among other things. Rudloff said, “I feel like a lot of people don’t know that it’s there.” It has old supplies from years past and tools that could be reused from year to year.
Another example of more sustainable practice in Walls is to find materials around your house, like totes or other things that may be reused instead of buying new ones. Rudloff said the goal was to “try using stuff around your house first instead of ordering online.”
This idea plays into the immense amount of waste accumulated by ordering online. It piles up from online ordering: first, the shipping itself, boxes and packing materials, and the emissions from the cars and trucks. A better alternative to this could be going to the store to buy the materials.
The Sustainability Club hopes to extend this successful idea to other aspects of Field Week, such as Costumes and attire for Field Week. They are spreading awareness for sustainable options like thrifting and buying biodegradable clothing.
The success of this project was astounding. Rudloff said, “We did save a ton. We used a lot of those orange plastic bags, which is a good thing.” They were able to recycle lots of unused cardboard and scraps. Although they were able to recycle a lot, they were not able reuse the Walls as sets for the middle schools. “We reached out and Pius said they might be interested, but it didn’t really work out,” Rudloff said.
Junior Sydney Auman, an active member of the Sustainability Club, was on the crew that took the recycling to be recycled. “It was a little hard for the classes without Sustainability members on their Walls,” Auman said. Cotton and other teachers helped the other classes, too. She talked about the successful parts of these new guidelines as well as things that could’ve gone better. Auman said, “I think just making sure people know what can go in each bin.” There are still some things to improve on, but sustainability is going in the right direction.
Field Week may be over, but the new rules and guidelines allow students to continue to save the planet one bag of recycling at a time.
The Sustainability Club has achieved some great things over Field Week.
The sustainability of the Walls category was mostly successful and they can’t wait to start more initiatives in the next couple years.
In order of how they appear above: Hillary Dunham ’23, Emma Koch ’24, Amelia Kafka ’25, and Grace Tynan ’26 posing with recycling bins. Photos by CaitlynDunham and MariellaVirgillito.
What ways can you take initiative to be more sustainable in your daily life? We would love to know in the comments below.