Native Plant Garden:
During the 2020-2021 school year, many members of SFS decided to begin planning a native plant garden to add to the Port Townsend High School garden. We are currently working on gathering the plants we need and beginning the planting process. Throughout the year, we have been learning about the importance of planting native species in order to preserve biodiversity and create a balanced ecosystem for local wildlife. Since plants native to our area naturally grow in local conditions, they are low maintenance and do not require extensive care and watering. By constructing this addition to our school garden, we hope to create a space where other students can learn about the ability of native plants to increase biodiversity and aid in carbon sequestration as well as the strong and intricate connections between all living beings on this planet. We want to inspire other students to become involved in the garden and connect with nature. If all goes according to plan, this will be the first of many projects which will contribute to transforming our school garden into an experiential learning environment where any student can go to learn about what it means to work with the land in a way that helps to reduce climate change, one of the number one threats facing our generation.
Another group of dedicated SFS members decided to take on the challenge of passing an idling ban for the city of Port Townsend. After passing a ban on single-use plastic straws, we were inspired to propose further legislation to make our community a more environmentally friendly location. This is an important issue since idling for a time greater than ten seconds is a waste of gas and the exhaust from a stopped car harms the environment more than that from a moving car. Our ban will be based on bans that are already in place in cities such as New York City, Philadelphia, and Salt Lake City. It would prohibit idling for over three minutes within the city of Port Townsend except in very cold temperatures. There will also be an exception for those who use their cars for shelter. We hope that individuals in our community will consider signing our petition and supporting us as we present this proposal to the Port Townsend City Council.
SFS worked hard to draft and propose a ban on single-use plastic straws and coffee stirrers in Port Townsend. The ban ultimately passed in the summer of 2020 and went into effect on January 1, 2021. It essentially eliminated the use of single-use plastic straws and coffee stirrers within the city limits. Single-use plastic straws are still allowed to be sold in grocery stores and are still permitted in hospitals, but other businesses are required to use non plastic straws such as paper straws, reusable alternatives such as metal straws, or simply no straws.
Reusable Plates and Silverware in Our School:
To end the use of disposable cutlery and plates in the high school cafeteria, SFS decided to find reusable plates and silverware to use instead. We organized plate and silverware drives in order to gather enough dishes for the school. This has been an ongoing project since even though these items are reusable, some do break or disappear as time goes on. Luckily, we have found lots of support in the community for this effort. We also created colorful bins in order to collect these plates after lunch in order to work towards solving the problem of students forgetting to return their dishes to the cafeteria after finishing their meals.
One year, SFS students decided to work toward the installation of hydration stations at the school. One student decided to also connect this to their senior project. Hydration stations allow students to fill up their reusable water bottles with fresh water at any time during the school day. They provide an efficient, environmentally friendly, and sanitary way to stay hydrated.
In the past, SFS has had success in organizing cleanups of local Port Townsend beaches. There will likely be many more SFS beach cleanups in the future since removing waste from our shores is a pressing issue in our maritime community.
SFS has participated in several tree plantings and will continue to do so. Planting trees is crucial to the health of our beautiful planet. It is also an effective way to get the community involved in combating climate change.
School Strikes for Climate:
Drawing on the ideas of Greta Thunberg, a young, Swedish climate activist, Students for Sustainability organized school strikes for climate action. During these strikes, students marched out of the school during the day to demand climate justice. Coming together with a very large group of students from the school to voice our opinions about this cause was an empowering experience. We hope that our actions such as these strikes will help our community and the rest of the world understand why our generation is calling for climate action. We want a future which we can optimistically look forward to and we want to live in a world full of beauty and harmonious relationships between all living things.
Over the years, members of SFS have given several inspirational presentations. These have ranged from an impressive journey to Washington D.C. to voice concerns about climate change and request action, to a trip to the Youth Environmental Summit in Yakima to inform a group of around 300 students about the mission of the club. The most recent presentations at local locations such as Finnriver Farm and Cidery were also very successful and educational.