If you’ve ever filled up a water bottle at a hydration station, disposed of your lunch remains in the cafeteria compost bins, or taken a school bike out for a spin, you’ve utilized initiatives set in place by the Eco-Reps—the school’s student-led environmental sustainability club.
Comprised of 16 students, the group aims to raise awareness for environmental issues and educate the community about sustainability practices, Co-President Mila Camargo Cortes ’18 said.
The idea for the Eco-Reps came about several years ago when Former Faculty Advisor Laura Tangusso, a member of the faculty’s Environmental Action Committee at the time, wanted to create a sustainability group that involved the students.
“Students have ideas we [faculty] don’t think of,” Ms. Tangusso said. “Students may know what is effective with their peers better than we faculty do and are often more in touch with the beliefs and attitudes of their peers. And finally, students are the majority of our school population—their voices are vitally important.”
The Eco-Reps meet every Thursday X block, when they brainstorm, discuss, plan, and follow up on individual and group projects. In the past, they have organized Green Commute Week—a week when the school encourages students to use eco-friendly forms of transportation like walking, biking, carpooling, and riding on public transportation—and the annual Eco Bash, an April fair aimed at sustainability education.
In the spring, the Eco-Reps will devote several meetings to fundraising, planning activities, hiring food vendors, arranging speakers and presenters, and coordinating administration for the Eco Bash.
Currently, the club is planning a campaign to raise awareness on the detrimental effects of our declining bee population. Other initiatives include an anti-idling campaign that encourages student and faculty drivers to turn off their car engines when possible to reduce fumes and the introduction of more environment-centered community service opportunities to Mud Week, Mila added.
Eco-Rep Will Kim ’20 said the club’s work in spreading the message of sustainability is crucial in making the school—and the world—a greener place.
“I really like talking during meetings and hearing about all the projects the group has undertaken,” Will added. “It’s cool to see members work passionately on their own initiatives yet still be able to provide feedback and help make [everyone else’s] projects more effective.”
To become an Eco-Rep, a student must apply and interview with the club presidents and Faculty Advisor Ariel Duddy, a process that results in an engaged and passionate group of club members, Ms. Duddy said.
Co-President Maggie Swanson ’18 said she looks for applicants who are creative and passionate about environmental causes, determined to enact change, and eager to devise original, not “cookie cutter,” sustainability initiatives for the school to implement.
“[The Eco-Reps] have to be really hard-working,” she said. “A lot of the time people will not respond to environmental efforts or will be hesitant to take action. Going green is not always the most convenient thing to do, which can be a turn-off for many people, so we have to be persistent.”
Nonetheless, Mila said she is pleased with how the school’s interest and awareness surrounding sustainability have grown with each of the club’s projects.
“The school’s involvement with the Eco-Reps has been steadily increasing, both from the students and administration,” she said. “I hope that eventually everyone will consider themselves an unofficial Eco-Rep because we should all be advocating for our planet.”