Students work to decrease CHS’s carbon footprint

News

New local program, club work to educate masses on ways to reduce environmental impact

By Monica Cheng
<[email protected]>

READY TO RECYCLE: Irene Gibson of the Carmel Green Team actively recycles disposable material. Although the school does not yet have many available bins, Gibson hopes to make recycling a more accessible activity. GABRIELLE BOWERS / PHOTO
READY TO RECYCLE: Irene Gibson of the Carmel Green Team actively recycles disposable material. Although the school does not yet have many available bins, Gibson hopes to make recycling a more accessible activity. GABRIELLE BOWERS / PHOTO

When sophomore Cleo Hernandez looked up in the main cafeteria one day during her lunch, it occurred to her that the ceiling lights, particularly in the center of the room where she was sitting, used up a large amount of energy

“The school should try to conserve electricity and be more environmentally friendly,” Hernandez said.

The Carmel Green Initiative is a program whose goal is to create awareness of the connection between Carmel citizens and their impact on the environment as well as to reduce energy waste and pollution. As of February 2009 CHS took part in the replacement and conversion of light bulbs with new GE “Green” energy-saver bulbs, significantly lowering the quantity of pollutants in the atmosphere.

For Hernandez, those changes are good, but she said the school could still do more. “It’s good that (Carmel) changed to eco-friendly light bulbs, but they should still turn off some of the lights that aren’t used,” she said.

Even though turning off computers and lights may seem like trivial things, Irene Gibson, a member of Carmel Green Team and junior, said every step counts toward helping the environment on a larger scale and contributing to one goal: protecting the Earth. The Carmel Green Team is a club at CHS that encourages “green” projects within the city of Carmel by giving grants of money to other teams that want to help the environment, according to Gibson.

“It’s important to protect our environment for future generations,” George Ohmer, an AP Environmental Science teacher, said. One thing that would be beneficial to the environment, he said, is recycling. “It takes an awful lot more energy to make materials, such as aluminum, cans and glass, from raw materials than it does to make those materials from recycled material,” Ohmer said.

Gibson said some students and teachers are active in these “green” procedures, but not everyone is doing it.

Ohmer said, “I think students would be receptive to recycling, but probably the biggest problem lies in the cafeteria. There’s a lot of paper, plastics, cans and bottles that can be recycled but they aren’t. All of it just goes into the trash, which ends up in landfills.”

And although the impact of environmentally harmful activities may not be very noticeable at first glance, the long-term effects become evident with time, according to Gibson. Knowing this, she said, makes it imperative for Carmel High School to make further improvements.

Students like Hernandez, who are trying to help the environment, make that goal easier to accomplish.

“At home, we use the eco-friendly light bulbs and cleaners,” she said. “We also turn down the heater in the winter and don’t use the air conditioner as much in the summer. The only thing we don’t do is recycle because it costs extra money. It’s incredibly unfair because if they’re trying to encourage environmentally friendly behavior, there should be less of an economic barrier.”

Gibson said Carmel High School can further improve on being environmentally friendly, for a start, by having paper recycling bins at every classroom, not just some classrooms. “(The school) should also recycle plastic and aluminum and not just paper,” Gibson said.

“There’s a pretty big student interest,” Gibson said. “There just needs to be easy ways to get people to be involved.”

HAMILTON COUNTY’S GREEN SCORECARD

40th percentile: air releases of developmental toxicants

50th percentile: total environmental releases (of all U.S. counties)

60th percentile: cancer risk score (air and water releases)

70th percentile: air releases of reproductive toxicants

SCOREDCARD.ORG / SOURCE

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