SEA Takes on Education and Sustainability Initiatives

If you want to learn about the oil industry, climate protests, or environmental exchange-traded funds, turn to the Students for Environmental Action (SEA) club. The club holds discussions about current events, hosts outings, and works towards decreasing the school’s carbon footprint.
On March 20, SEA helped remove plastic bags from the Dining Hall. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Dining Services had been providing plastic bags for transporting grab-and-go food. Around 150 faculty and 600 students eating three meals a day produced a significant amount of plastic waste. Co-head Eliza Ross ’22 credits Ms. Amy Sidran, farm education coordinator, and Mr. Josh Hahn, assistant head of school, for directing the bag removal initiative. Ross said, “At the end of the day, we are only students. We can’t install a wind farm, but we can research and bring [solutions to] the administration.”
In past years, SEA club meetings focused on current events related to the climate crisis or the science of global warming. Recently, meetings have considered intersections between environmentalism and politics, economics, and social justice or focused on specific topics such as racial disparities in climate change’s impact and Native American Heritage Month. Sophie Davis ’22, a club member, said, “Climate change isn’t [something] you can dive into without mentioning race.”
This year, SEA has expanded beyond environmental education at the school. With help from St. Luke’s Society, SEA board members Angela Choi ’21 and Madeline Chang ’22 are partnering with the Northeast-Millerton Library to teach virtual environmental studies classes to elementary schoolers. In five classes, they will cover an overview of climate change and sustainability, ocean acidification, fast fashion, food sustainability, and student activism. SEA members have also participated in the National High School (NHS) Climate Forum, which invites high school students to discuss their schools’ responses to climate change.
The club recently introduced Blue & Green, a monthly publication initiated by communications director Kiki Henry ’22 and Chang. Issues will include overviews of SEA’s monthly events, opportunities for future participation, and student-written articles. SEA debuted the publication in an all-school email on March 9; it is also accessible through the Hotchkiss Hub to students.
The first issue also invites students to host meetings on topics of their choosing and includes an overview of past semesters’ meetings and two articles by Davis and Chang. Davis wrote about her experience at the Sustainability and Development Summit, and Chang submitted an article exploring controversies around biomass.
Co-head Margo Donohue ’22 shared many opportunities for students to educate themselves on sustainability in a recent all-school email.