ETHS Sustainability Committee sparks conversations

Evan Burns

Zachary Bahar, News Editor

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The ETHS Sustainability Committee held its second meeting on Oct. 22 with the goal of creating a more environmentally focused ETHS.

“If we actually wanted to create change, we needed to make a sustainability committee under the Board of Education, so we’ve worked very hard to make that happen,” junior Mia Houseworth, president of Climate Action Team and co-chair of the committee, said. “We want to create change, not just ask the school board to do it. If we make sustainability another goal under the Board of Education, that means that they have to work towards it and that there have to be plans set in place.”

The committee was formed at the end of the 2018-2019 school year after Houseworth, alongside fellow juniors and committee co-chairs Louise Bond and Sarika Waikar, wanted to discuss and implement environmentalism at ETHS in a more active way. One of their primary goals is to ensure that ETHS is contributing to the achievement of goals as stated in Evanston’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan (CARP) which, among other things, stipulates carbon neutrality by 2050. 

“ETHS being such a large entity in Evanston, it can really be a space where we can make a lot of progress for the city in terms of sustainability,” chemistry teacher and committee member Tina Lulla said.

While the committee is still in its infancy—not yet being an official board committee as of Nov. 4—they have started to develop strategies to implement their goals, ranging from the installation of solar panels and waste audits to increased environmental education and awareness among Evanston students. 

“It’s important that students become educated. We’re ultimately talking about the future of our planet, so I think the more education we can have and the more understanding of what’s happening in very viable ways is important,” Lulla said.

The committee forms part of a triumvirate of ETHS environmentalism alongside Climate Action Team, formerly Green Team, and E-Town Climate Action (ECA), the group responsible for the September climate strike; these three groups aim to tackle environmental action through the use of policy, education and civic disobedience respectively.

“We’re hoping to get a lot of student involvement… and I’m encouraging a lot of students to go and join ECA because they’re kind of the fire for our committee,” Houseworth said. “Students are the ones really pushing for it and…. we need a lot of students to come to ECA if we want to see change in our school because they’re the ones who are really getting the administration to look at what needs to be done.”

With the Oct. 22 meeting discussing subcommittees and support from local groups such as Citizens’ Greener Evanston, the committee is off to a strong start and plans to continue its work into the future. 

“There’s a lot of knowledge and expertise in the room and certainly a lot of passion and energy behind it. It’s an emergency, it’s important, so I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of change in this area,” school board member Stephanie Teterycz said. 

The next meeting of the Sustainability Committee will be taking place in late November.