New program aims to teach sustainability among students, adults

Bexley community members participate in Sustainable September events.
(Photo by Iris Frost)

High school students and Environmental Club members participated in several events hosted by Green Bexley in their Sustainable September initiative this past September.

Bexley’s Sustainability Program Coordinator Elizabeth Ellman said that Bexley’s outward-facing sustainability organization, Green Bexley, hosted several events that coincided with weekly topics and actions during the month of September.

“Of these actions, there are many that individuals can take to have a profound impact,” she said. “The top three that residents of Bexley, Ohio, can do are having a plant-based diet, reducing food waste and, whenever possible, installing solar panels.”

The topics for each week were plant-rich diets, distributed solar photovoltaics, reduced food waste and community action, Ellman said. Each event, she explained, consisted of a series of films, speakers and activities to promote sustainability.

Ellman said the planning process was in coordination with several other community members and establishments, such as the Bexley Public Library and Capital University.

“I sort of got the idea for this last year, but we really started planning in July, early-August,” she said.

Green Bexley worked with Capital University students to organize Sustainable September events, and the high school helped with promotion, Ellman said. Working with Capital University students enabled many of the Sustainable September events to be hosted at the university, and to be targeted toward college students, she added.

Junior and Environmental Club president Addison Helon said she worked with Ellman and Green Bexley to promote and increase student participation in the Sustainable September events.

“It’s to make everyone in the community, both in the school and just living in Bexley, more aware of how their actions affect the environment and to try to have them be more environmentally conscious and sustainable in their day-to-day lives,” Helon said.

Student sustainability education is one of the main goals of the Environmental Club this year, Helon said. She explained that educating students on environmental concepts and issues is crucial to getting students to take action. There have been conversations within the Environmental Club to host a school assembly to educate students on varying environmental topics, Helon said.

“We want to work on sustainability education because we’re trying to work on a lot of different projects that involve student cooperation,” she said.

Sustainable September has been very successful, Ellman said, and community turnout has made her optimistic for city involvement in future Green Bexley events.

“I’m so glad to see so many people come together to take care of our planet and to broaden their horizons, step out of their comfort zones a little bit and to care for everyone else,” she said.

Junior and Environmental Club member Izzy Carleton said she attended the first film event of Sustainable September, “Cowspiracy,” to learn about the environmental effects of meat consumption.

“‘Cowspiracy’ made me uncomfortable in a good way,” Carleton said. “It was a learning experience that will stick with me and I think it might change my views on how I consume meat in the future.”

Science teacher and Environmental Club advisor Scott Logsdon said Green Bexley’s involvement with the club and the Sustainable September initiative has created more chances for high school students to explore hands-on environmental action in the community.

“When you offer a lot of opportunities, then people can pick and choose what they want to work on, giving our students a better chance at getting involved,” Logsdon said.

Logsdon explained his excitement over the city’s commitment to sustainability that is clear in the Sustainable September initiative.

“Bexley is progressive in that it’s trying new things with the sustainability piece and making that part of the decision-making process,” Logsdon said.

The Environmental Club hopes to work more closely with Green Bexley in the future to put on events geared towards high school students, Helon said. Sustainable September may become an annual event, and hopefully student participation will increase in coming years, she added.

Ellman explained that students have a unique and important role in promoting sustainability in the community because of their profound influence and various connections.

“Students are our future, and this is their future that we’re talking about,” Ellman said. “They also have a tremendous impact on their community and their family, and I think if we start caring about these things at home, this permeates throughout our community.”

Carleton added that learning to be environmentally conscious on a community level makes people live more sustainably and think about their actions on a global scale.

“We are the next generation of our community, and if we want to make a change, we have to start learning how to make that change early on,” Carleton said.

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Cece Bowling
Cece Bowling is a senior at Bexley High School and an in-depth editor for the Torch student newspaper. Outside of the Torch, she plays soccer for the high school, participates in theater productions and sings in the Bexley Vocal Ensemble.