Every month or so Paige Russell loads three blue bins and countless other boxes and garbage bags from Seaholm’s recycling station into her blue Ford Escape. From there, she drives to SOCRRA – the largest recycling center in the Birmingham community – and, with fellow classmates, sorts through used batteries, ink cartridges, cell phones and other nondescript recyclables into the appropriate bins.
This is just one aspect of environmental activism The Green Club and Seaholm Administration do to keep Seaholm listed as an official Michigan Green School.
“I think it’s a great compliment to our school, for all the work that students do and staff do to be as green as we can,” Community Service Coordinator and Green Club Supervisor Cheryl Shettel said.
Seaholm has been ranked as a Michigan Green School since 2008, last year reaching an Evergreen School ranking for the first time.
An Evergreen ranking is the highest honor a school can receive, requiring at least 20 environmental programs from the four categories of recycling, energy, environmental protection and miscellaneous.
“We hope all schools will be innovative each year and aim for evergreen status each year,” Michigan Green Schools representative Kris Moffett said.
However, despite Seaholm working to go Green and earn the honor of being an Evergreen school, Russell, the President of the Green Club, considers this just the first step.
“I think it’s a really great start, a great foundation,” Russell said. “Once you’re the highest ranking, you’re the highest ranking, but it’s a good thing to always push for more [environmental action].”
The 20 environmental programs needed to become an official “Evergreen School” is only 71% of what michigangreenschools.us offer as suggestions on the application, not including the ideas they have listed on a separate page.
“There are so many ways in which we could improve what we do,” Shettel said. “We still generate a lot of waste, plastic is still an issue. It would be great if we could get everyone to use reusable water bottles and there’s a lot of waste at lunch time.”
Russell said she expects Seaholm to continue improving its environmental standing year by year. In the near future, she said the Seaholm green club with focus on a few specific green initiatives. These will include, getting the word out on the current recycling program, starting a compost system, getting solar panels to power the lights in the football stadium, and moving to use recycled cups throughout the building.
On February 5, Green Club representatives Lacey Mendalson and Hannah King met with Principal Dee Lancaster in attempt to get her approval for continuing to pursue the solar panel project.
“[The meeting] went well,” Medalson said. “[Lancaster] was really supportive of the idea, so we just need to talk to the Board [of Education] and businesses to receive a grant. Hopefully it will be up soon.”
Moffett said she feels moving to alternative energy is the most important step for schools – and people – to take as they continue to become more green.
“The most important thing any school can do is bring down green house gas emissions which are unsustainably high.” Moffett said. “Last year was the hottest year in recorded history. We must focus on lowering energy consumption in schools, at home and helping senior citizens cut their power usage.”
While Russell said the administration plays a large role in the encouraging and implementing of green projects, she truly believes changes start with the students themselves.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to individual students,” Russell said. “They have to decide to make [the environment a priority].”