One Pledge, Two Pledge, Green Pledge, Blue Pledge
by Caleb Rhodes on Friday, January 22nd, 2016
Sustainability is a major issue in America. In 2013, Americans produced 254 million tons of trash, a nearly threefold increase since 1960, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. However, there is hope. Of the 254 million tons of waste generated, our nation recycles 34.3%, and the amount of waste recycled is constantly increasing. Sustainability and plans to mitigate global warming are finally beginning to be recognized as one of the paramount issues of the 21st century. The COP21, United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris this past December, was the first productive international discussion on climate change since the Kyoto Protocols in 1997. Some highlights of COP21 include the agreement to institute policies that limit the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to the European Union website. The world is committing itself more and more to a greener model, but macro policy instituted by governments is often diluted at lower levels; this niche is where Milton’s very own Sustainability Board comes in, ensuring and improving sustainable practices locally.
According to the Milton Academy website, “The Sustainability Board, made up of both boarding and day students, is the official school board that focuses on environmental efforts at Milton. Along with educating the community, the board focuses on improving Milton’s sustainability, hoping to inspire large-scale environmental change on campus. The initiatives range from smaller projects such as changing recycling bin lids to larger projects such as water conservation and compost. These initiatives also include implementing single-stream recycling and LED lighting.”
Milton Academy has a variety of other sustainable practices, including the solar panels on the ACC and the extremely environmentally conscious Pritzker Science Building. Additionally, in 2015, the school introduced composting in Forbes at the behest of the Sustainability Board.
Yet among students, views of sustainability waver between uncertainty and negativity. Henry Westerman (II) notes, “So many people still use paper plates and other non-reusable items like [paper] cups and [plastic utensils] from Forbes, and we waste a lot of food, even if it’s composted.” Katherine Wilcox (IV) more bluntly states, “Sustainability is not super great here at Milton.”
Co-Head of Sustainability Board Julianna Viola (II) agrees, remarking, “Honestly, I’m disappointed in the state of sustainability on campus. The ideal sustainable school is one where all students follow a more sustainable lifestyle–for example, taking shorter showers, or using reusable products whenever possible. I don’t mean that everyone needs to advocate for sustainability, but I do think everyone’s awareness of the repercussions of his or her actions is essential, and we’re really not at that level yet. For some people being sustainable seems ‘inconvenient.’ Why try to take a five-minute shower when a twenty-minute shower is absolutely glorious? Why take a reusable plate (which you have to clear in Forbes later) to Withington when you could bring a compostable one and trash it afterwards? I definitely think all of these excuses are ridiculous, but maybe part of it is that you can’t observe how your own lifestyle change could better the environment.”
However, there is a note of optimism that protrudes among a general consensus of weak network of sustainable practices on campus. Jaime Moore-Carrillo (III) believes “many people are very open-minded about sustainability,” a sentiment the Sustainability Board counts on.
Singling out two major issues: the buying of bottled waters such as Smart Water and the use paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils from Forbes, the Sustainability Board will launch a campaign to hold people accountable for their sustainable (or not so sustainable) practices. In February, people can participate in one of three pledges: the Blue Pledge, in which people agree to not purchase bottled water; the Green Pledge, in which people forego the use of disposable products from Forbes; and the Gold Pledge, which is a combination of both the Green and the Blue. Furthermore, the Board is looking to install composting in locations other than Forbes, such as the Stu and even the bathrooms.
Sustainability Board member Peter DiGiovanni (II) believes “More of the community needs to help participate in our efforts because at a certain point, no matter how many announcements we give or how many signs we hang, it is up to the community to take the changes upon themselves.”
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=7568