GOING GREEN: Part 1, Green Club.

This month the Focus investigates the sustainability of Midland High and the community as a whole. The package opens with a feature on Midland High’s Green Club and their efforts to make the school more eco-friendly. It continues by outlining ways that individuals can be more green in their everyday lives, and an evaluation of Midland’s eco-friendliness at varying levels. Staff Writer Toria Montgomery | Copy Editor Aubrey Chambers | Features Editor Jenna Spencer

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Junior Olivia Freidinger and seniors Allison Simmons and Maiah Jezak are the founders of Green Club. The club meets on Tuesday mornings in the exploratorium. Photo: Aubrey Chambers

 

For five years, Midland High School didn’t recycle. Although every classroom had separate bins for trash and recycling, they ended up being thrown into the same dumpsters outside. All of that changed last June, when junior Olivia Freidinger and seniors Allison Simmons and Maiah Jezak decided to do something about it.
There were four days left in the school year, and teachers and students were throwing away all their papers. The three girls, who sat together in government class, decided to stop all of these papers from ending up in a landfill. They started by emailing Principal Jeff Jaster and the Midland Recyclers. Then, the girls told the Recycling Center to be prepared for loads of bags filled with recyclables, as they planned to go around the school on Monday and collect the recyclables from classrooms, then drop it all off at the Recycling Center.
“From there it was just making it an official club with Mr. Jaster and then make the issue of recycling school-wide,” Freidinger said
Freidinger, Simmons, and Jezak labeled the dumpsters so janitors knew which bin was meant for what, and stood outside and watched to make sure they were putting recyclables in the correct bin. Jaster helped watch the janitors as well.
“I personally want to see more sustainable ways that Midland High can get better,” Freidinger said. “We throw away so much food at lunchtime; elementary schools do compost where you can throw away vegetables and things like that. I just want to see something that stays at the school, that continues going on and on.”
Freidinger said she created the Green Club because she wanted people to know that they can do something that matters, such as recycling and reusing items.
“You should think about how your actions affect not only this generation but the next generation,” Freidinger said. “I wanted to create this club so that people understand that your choices and your actions, they matter, and I didn’t want anyone to think that recycling is so unimportant that it’s all going to get thrown in the trash anyways.”
Senior Brylee Pavlik has been a member of the club since it began. She said she was enthusiastic about joining the club because she thinks environmental issues need more attention given to them. She also said that students throughout the school need to be more aware of the planet they live on.
“I think that environmental issues don’t gain enough attention in society as a whole, and I think that starting a Green Club at Midland High was a great idea for bringing more attention to environmental issues within our school, and I think that’s something that needs to happen,” Pavlik said.
At a typical Green Club meeting, members talk about opportunities for fundraising in order to pay for things such as more recycling bins in the school, and how to raise awareness for environmental issues. Freidinger said that they share ideas about the direction they want the club to go in the future, and different projects that they want the club to take on.
Biology teacher Brian Edelbrock is the advisor for Green Club. Edelbrock said that he thinks Green Club is important to help people care about the environment.
“One perfect example of that is the tree that got knocked down [at Midland High], it hurts people when stuff like that happens,” Edelbrock said. “[Green Club] is hoping to replace that.”
Freshman Mallory Fenskie has been a part of the club since the beginning of the year, and said the club is a good way to be around people who share the same passion for the environment.
“I think just seeing people around [the school] be not being environmentally aware made me think about what my actions were, and it seemed like a good opportunity to get with people who were like-minded,” Fenskie said.
Fenskie also cites the club as being a reason she is more aware of how her actions impact the world around her, and helping her find steps she can take to be more green in her own life.
“It’s made me focus more on the kind of stuff that I’m doing–like with straws, using a metal straw instead of a plastic straw,” Fenskie said.
Pavlik has also noticed an impact in her own life. She says it has made her even more passionate and aware about the environment and the steps that can be taken to help raise awareness for problems regarding it.
“I think that I’ve taken away a better understanding of the issues that our environment faces, and what needs to be done in order to change society’s view on the environment and stress the importance of environmental issues in the United States and around the world,” Pavlik said.
The Green Club also made a $100 donation to The Nature Conservancy after raising money through bake sales. According to their website, The Nature Conservancy is a gorup that aims to protect both land and water and does four things: works on climate control, protects the environment, helps with food and water sustainability, and creates healthy cities.
Kari Marciniak, The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Strategic Communications, said that The Nature Conservancy is occasionally involved with groups like Green Club, and that they are looking for more opportunities to reach out to high schools and student groups. Marciniak said donations are greatly appreciated and help The Nature Center in all of their actions.
“[Green Club’s] generous donation will be used where it’s needed most to help protect and preserve nature here in the great state of Michigan,” Marciniak said.
The Green Club plans to have a week at the school centered around going green called Blue Goes Green Week. It will take place the week of April 22, beginning with Earth Day on Monday and stretching to Arbor Day on Friday.
They plan to do a variety of activities throughout the week, like showing videos, giving announcements, and giving an opportunity for students to sign letters that will be sent to local politicians asking for action against pollution.
“Hopefully, people will appreciate nature a little bit more, get outside a little bit more, and see that they can have fun doing that,” Edelbrock said.
Similarly, Pavlik hopes that Blue Goes Green Week will make more of Midland High environmentally aware.
“I think the goal of the green week is mainly just to raise more awareness for Midland High, possibly encourage new members to join, and again bring attention to environmental issues because they aren’t discussed enough at Midland High,” Pavlik said.
If there’s one thing Green Club wants the students of Midland High to take away from Blue Goes Green Week, it’s that we can all be a part of going green.
“I feel like a lot of people can be afraid of being environmentally aware; it’s kind of scary to think about: if you don’t take care of the Earth, you’re not going to have one,” Fenskie said.