The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

EcoAct Week Emphasizes Sustainability

From a clothing swap that filled the Student Center with racks of fabric, to fresh produce displayed at a makeshift farmers market outside the Spieker Center, to a teach-in on the loop, EcoAct Week was filled with environmentally-driven activities. Led by seniors Maddie Brown, Kaavya Baliga and Alisha Jain, the Climate Coalition at Menlo helped bring these eco-friendly efforts into fruition. 

Frequent collaborative effort played a role in making the week possible. “When we started meeting in the fall, we’d meet weekly […] I would also work along with other leaders after school,” Brown said. 

“I, for example, was in contact with Menlo admin and the people in charge of the finances to try and expand our budget on certain things. For example, we had […] a different meal schedule this week,” Brown said. “And then there was also a lot of speakers we had to reach out to for the assemblies […] that took a lot of […] planning in advance.”

The Climate Coalition also worked with the Menlo cafeteria to set up a meatless menu for the week. “[Climate Coalition] gives me suggestions for the menu. […] I look into their suggestions and try to figure out what would work best here for feeding 1,000 people […] within the timeframe we have,” Executive Chef Ken Sligar said. 

This year’s EcoAct Week was also unique in terms of its scale. “In previous years, [EcoAct] Week has not been nearly as publicized or nearly as packed with events. We wanted to make this year stand out as a sort of last hoorah for us seniors,” Baliga wrote in an email to The Coat of Arms. “We were able to accomplish that with a teach-in at the loop, farmers market, clothing swap, solution fair, spirit activities and more.”

One novel activity included the Earth Day teach-in, where students gathered on the loop to hear Upper School English teacher Margaret Ramsey, history teacher Charles Hanson and Director of Sustainability Chrissy Orangio speak about how sustainability ties to Menlo.

Hanson, who teaches the newly instated Environmental and Development Economics class, emphasized the daily applications of environmental economics. During his talk, Hanson called upon students to realize their inherent roles as environmental economists. 

“You make decisions all the time about whether doing this is worth it in an environmental sense,” Hanson said. “Is it worth it to walk to school? […] Is it worth it to ride a bike to school? […] Those are economic decisions because there’s a benefit and there’s a cost and you balance them.”

Orangio, meanwhile, brought up anecdotes about her research at Climate Justice in Cape Cod to highlight the extreme impacts of climate change, especially on developing countries. “I saw the community I researched [in Cape Cod] go from having extreme flooding […] to being on day 0 (being rationed 1 gallon of water for the whole family each day) within 5 years. These are the ‘extremes’ that scientists are referring to, and they are only going to get worse,” Orangio wrote in an email to The Coat of Arms. 

Like Hanson, Orangio also mentioned the importance of individual actions when fighting climate change. “We have a lot of privilege in the United States […] and we have a responsibility to mitigate [our carbon emissions]. […] I don’t expect students to solve climate change, but being aware of your actions and trying to do what you can for the environment is important,” Orangio wrote.

Ramsey discussed the concept of future waste, encouraging students to consider how immediate actions impact the future environment. “Challenge yourselves, your friends, your family and your school to avoid unnecessary future trash,” she said in her speech. 

Tangible actions she urged students to take included using washable silverware instead of disposable utensils, avoiding fast fashion and resisting the urge to buy unnecessary items. “I talked a little bit about things that I observe on our campus […] trying to get people to remember […] the idea of future trash and [to use] their daily choices as a way of facilitating that shift,” Ramsey said.

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Andrea Li
Andrea Li, Print Editor
  Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 4 Favorite aspect of journalism: Working with other people on staff :) Interests outside of school: Reading, writing, cooking Class of 2024
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Eleanor Kinder, Social Media & Marketing Director

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

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    Benedetta RiggiMay 24, 2024 at 12:12 pm

    Good to share after verification