By: Kate Twomey, Sophomore
With climate change and pollution worsening and their effects becoming more noticeable and detrimental, people are looking for ways to contribute to environmental sustainability efforts. At Marblehead High School we do just that by hosting a chapter of the National Green Schools Society (NGSS). NGSS is a nationwide organization that focuses on helping students become more involved in environmentalism, both in their immediate community and on a larger scale. Students also receive service hours through the club, and if they earn enough they can receive awards and recognitions. The MHS chapter is actively involved in sustainability efforts both in the school and locally. For example, NGSS runs the composting stations in the school cafeteria. These stations are staffed by a few NGSS members each lunch period who help students properly sort their waste into composting, recycling, and trash. NGSS also handles the recycling at the high school. Every day after school NGSS members go around a specified floor of the school collecting recycling from the classrooms. Both of these activities help to reduce the amount of trash produced by the school by instead removing waste through sustainable disposal methods.
On a community-wide level, NGSS has been involved in clean-ups all around town. So far this year, we have had clean-ups at Seaside, Gatchell’s, the bike path, Village School, MHS, and more. During these clean-ups, NGSS members pick up trash found in these locations, sort out any recyclables to be dealt with separately, and bring the rest to the dump to be disposed of properly.
NGSS also provides members with service hour opportunities. Members can earn service hours through activities such as composting, recycling, cleanups, research projects, and more. Members then accumulate their service hours, the goal being to earn 20 by the end of the year.
The MHS chapter of NGSS is divided into six independent project groups. These groups each have their own specific projects they work on throughout the year, in addition to the aforementioned activities. The anti-idling group campaigns in front of MHS after school to discourage people from idling their cars, which releases harmful emissions into the air. The aquaponics group works on growing tower gardens in the school and also cares for fish in the aquaponics system. The cafeteria sustainability group works with the high school to make the cafeteria more environmentally friendly through composting, using more sustainable trays, recycling, and more. The political group focuses on the political side of environmentalism. So far this year the political group has had the privilege to meet with the Marblehead Municipal Light Department, the Marblehead Water and Sewer Commission, and Massachusetts State Senator Brendan Crighton. During these meetings, we discussed potential projects that would increase the use of sustainable energy around town and learned about environmental legislation and how we can advocate for it. The solar panel group is working to research and advocate for the use of solar panels at the high school and around town, as solar panels are an important source of sustainable energy. Lastly, the eco bricks group collects materials for sustainable building blocks in collaboration with the Eco Bricks organization, which condenses used plastics into building materials.
NGSS is a great opportunity for MHS students to get involved in their school and local communities, learn about and become active in environmentalism, and earn service hours. Any MHS students interested in NGSS are welcomed and encouraged to join.