A different look at sustainability

Photo+by+Devesh+Kumar

Seniors Emily Getzoff and Wendy Zhang pick up trash at a Roots and Shoots meeting outside of RBHS. photo by Devesh Kumar

Grace Vance

Seniors Emily Getzoff and Wendy Zhang pick up trash at a Roots and Shoots meeting outside of RBHS. The two girls are co-presidents of the club, which is a local chapter of the Dr. Jane Goodall’s international organization dedicated to humanitarian and environmental service. 
[heading size=”18″]RBHS students show passion for environment[/heading]
In a school that has 50 different clubs and ten branches of Rock Bridge Reaches Out (RBRO) volunteer programs, RBHS is not new to helping the campus and community.
 
Junior Sam Baumer, one of the RBRO core leaders of Environmental Coalition, was almost predestined for his position in the recycling club. With both of his parents in sustainability job sectors — his mother working in the conservation department for over 25 years and his father working as a water quality engineer for over 30 years — his background made him aware of environmental issues early on.
“Both of my parents have stressed the importance [of sustainability] and have raised me to treat the Earth with respect,” Baumer said.
Also a member of Environmental Coalition, sophomore Anna Inslee works to improve conditions of the Earth around the school and beyond. To add to her sustainability efforts, she convinced her family to start recycling at home as well as plant flowers that aid the bees in pollination.
“Since [my mom] always plants flowers around spring and summer, I just asked her to find ones that would be better for bees specifically,” Inslee said. “I also do things like Clean Up Columbia. It’s an annual Columbia [event] where you’re assigned an area that you pick up trash [or recycle] with a group of people. [I have gone] three times.”
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READ MORE ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY IN OUR COMMUNITY: Stadium sustainability: MU combats waste at football games
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While Inslee and Baumer were drawn to sustainable efforts through their own interest, EEE (Exploring Educational Excellence) teacher Gwen Struchtemeyer was lead to school environmental activities through the students that frequent her classroom.
“Because mostly students who hang out in this room or students with friends that hang out in this room are involved in this club, as a result the gifted education specialists have often [overseen sustainability clubs] because he or she would see those students most often,” Struchtemeyer said.
Even with the overwhelming support in RBRO core clubs to enact environmentally friendly methods around the school, Struchtemeyer still believes some improvements could be made.
“I do think that we could improve the recycling in this building profoundly by having more recycling bins and, you know, there is no budget for what we have, but I think that could be something that we do,” Struchtemeyer said. “I have a trashcan outside my door, but what I notice is that half the time even though it says “Recycle, recycle” all over it, half of the time I’m digging trash out of it.”
[quote cite=”junior Sam Baumer “]I don’t want to live in a world covered in toxins. I believe that I am a steward of the Earth and it is my job to invest in its future as it invests in mine.[/quote]
In the past few years, the popularity of the buzzword “sustainability” has fluctuated. In 2014, Toyota started working on a template of a car that would emit water vapor and heat rather than gasoline, thus cutting back on the greenhouse gas emissions that pollute the atmosphere, according to an article from Eco Watch. However, for Inslee, sustainability is not just a trendy word that comes and goes through the years. Instead, it is a philosophy she lives by.
“You need [sustainability] in order to get through school and work,” Inslee said. “If I can’t sustain myself then I won’t be able to do what I have to do in order to be successful.”
In Baumer’s eyes, preservation of the environment is the responsibility of the collective, rather than the few. He believes it is within the individual to give to the Earth more than they take away.
“I don’t want to live in a world covered in toxins. I believe that I am a steward of the Earth and it is my job to invest in its future as it invests in mine,” Baumer said. “I think it’s important that everyone does their part to make the world a better place.”