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March On?

Authored By: 
Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Science Teacher

Last week, more than 300,000 people descended on Manhattan for The People’s Climate March.  Bill DeBlasio, the New York mayor who does not take the subway to work; Leonardo DiCaprio, who often parties on yachts in the south of France; Al Gore, who left in a rather large SUV; and several Californians, who flew 3000 miles, marched with paper signs and coffee cups which they left littered along the route to proclaim their anger at the politicians and people of the world who they feel are not doing enough to help stop the increasing problem of climate change. 

Hmmm.  Does anyone else see a problem with this picture?

Many of us aren’t ready to give up our high pressure showers and power flush toilets, or to compost our garbage and to use recycled toilet paper, but if we’re going to try to save the planet, instead of just marching, let’s try doing a few small things that could actually make an impact.  Turning off the water while brushing your teeth, for example, is a great place to start.  Maybe you aren’t ready to give up the convenience of delivery food, but you can request that no disposable utensils and napkins be sent with your order. 

While a change in the behavior of just one person is helpful, businesses and organizations that change their practices can provide a greater impact.  I must commend my school, The Beekman School in New York City, for its green initiatives.  In the spring, all junior- and senior-level courses will be taught using the iPad. Each semester, I give several handouts in an effort to make sure my students have all they need to be successful. The school’s iPad revolution will definitely save our trees.   I can also foresee a small decrease in waste thanks to the use of a stylus in lieu of non-recyclable plastic pen barrels and binder materials that never make it through the year.

Make no mistake, I understand that these iPads will need to be charged using electricity, but The Beekman School has that covered, too!  For several years now, we have been Green Mountain Energy customers.  Green Mountain Energy is a renewable energy retailer.  The company (which launched its services in NYC in 2009) provides clean energy from renewable wind, solar and water sources.  The conversion, spurred on by our former business manager, was easy.  No rewiring was required.  The local utility company still delivers, maintains, and bills us for our electricity, but we sleep soundly knowing that our day-to-day learning is powered with reduced use of fossil fuels. It should also be noted that we’ve had no problems or service interruptions in our years with the company. 

So, march if it makes you feel better, but if you’re really concerned about the environment, follow The Beekman School’s example and do something that creates less waste and has the potential to make an impact.  We are educating the future leaders of our planet and trying our best to protect the environment our students will inherit.

We are welcoming students to class this fall via both in-person and online learning models in NYC.
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