Green, Clean, Sustainable?
To say it’s been hotter than hell for most of this year would be a bit of an understatement. The city of Denver has had 31 days where the temperature is above 90 degrees, and the average daily temperature puts us, very uncomfortably, at the 5th hottest year on record. One doesn't need statistics to know this, sitting in any classroom on the second floor accomplishes that well enough, but they help these numbers feel more damning. The fact that a school day was cut short because of heat, while nice in the moment, is still a very concerning precedent to have set as a possibility. But the thing is, there are far more signs to be noticed even just around the school that oftentimes get overlooked out of convenience for the beholders peace of mind. The recycling bins at East High School are in almost every room, but do they even need to be? Every day students make a conscious effort to use them and make sure the items that need to be separated are, but due to understaffing at the school and throughout Denver Public Schools, oftentimes it doesn’t make a difference. This isn’t to say that either DPS or East are deliberately neglecting the importance of recycling, but rather, there’s just not that much that can be done. Issues like this are representative of the bigger problem at hand. It’s not an issue of effort on the part of the people involved, it really does just come down to a lack of resources. If anything, on the effort front, East is one of the best in the district, if not the state. This is partially thanks to Gabriel Nagel and the Sustainability Club; they’re working to get East to become the first school in all of DPS to be officially green certified.
Their achievements over the past few years include implementing the use of compost in the cafeteria kitchen and planting 400 trees in the Boulder area after the fires that ravaged our state earlier this year, which is symbolic of the amount of paper East goes through in a whole school year. Another key component is Mr. Knauer, one of the AP environmental science and Marine biology teachers. Knauer is the main teacher sponsoring the sustainability club and has been teaching at East for eight years. Not only does he teach marine biology, but he was also a key factor in getting the class added to the curriculum in the first place. “Because we’re in a landlocked state, I feel like it’s important for the students to understand a lot of the oceanic issues and how they affect everyone on the planet, not just people by the coast.” Having taken his marine biology class, this is a vital point to understanding how big the issue at hand is. Every part of nature feeds into the rest of it. While it may be easy for us to not think about the ocean living here in Colorado, it is worth keeping in mind with the way that everyone disposes of waste. Knauer is a great example of doing simple actions in everyday life to cut down on carbon footprint, such as biking to work and the grocery store and setting aside days of the week to not eat meat. Having polled a random selection of East students, it was found that only 30% get to school in ways that don’t involve cars(walking, biking, public transport). Again no one can fault the students who have to use cars to get there, because that’s the problem, so many of them don’t have another option. Ultimately the biggest issue in all of this is a lack of ability to do these things that can cut down on carbon footprint. Just because people such as Knauer can afford to do these things to help doesn’t mean that everyone else can. Everyone comes from different environments, whether it be socioeconomic or where they physically reside, and not everyone can afford to make these changes to their lifestyle. What people should consider from this article is just being more aware of these things that make an impact on the environment, no matter how small or large they may be. Global warming and climate change are two issues that grow bleaker by the day and it’s easy to lose hope, but you have the ability to make a difference.