THS Green Team on the Fast Track to Sustainability

Keep a look out for the new THS courtyard, coming soon!


Emma Ziessler, Guest Writer

The fast-paced dangers of climate change now, more than ever before, threaten the world as we know it. The sheer magnitude of the problems concerning our environment makes the majority of people apprehensive, often to the point of becoming too overwhelmed to even consider making a change. Fortunately, our school has a green army that is quickly changing not only the physical aspects of our grounds but also the conscience of the student body in their lifestyle decisions. Who are these superheroes, you may ask? The Green Team!

The Green Team, although small in number, has made a large impact on our school’s community. Its mission to combat wasteful habits, specifically in their “war on plastics,” has grown from an idea with likeness of a seedling to a large tree that creates a positive attitude towards the environment in our school.

In addition to the team’s semi-annual cleanup organizations, they have recently implemented a new green space right here in our own backyard. Situated between the new and old wing of the building, the Green Team Courtyard promises a “natural environment” that, according to Ms. Donna Lewis, Supervisor of Students at THS, the team “will be able to sustain.” Staying true to its values of limiting wasteful habits, the team decided to give new life to a space that was otherwise unused and overlooked. As Ms. Lewis said, although “we have a few other very nice courtyards… we were committed to making not just a traditional courtyard with plants not native to New Jersey, but rather one that utilizes native species.” The Green Team worked diligently as it researched various native plants, and discovered dogwoods—a native Northeastern breed—and hollies that remain green year-round. As of right now, there are two white dogwoods in the courtyard, along with multiple hollies that flank the area. In addition to the appeal of the dogwood’s ability to blossom come springtime, the Green Team focused its efforts on finding plants that are low-maintenance and do not require irrigation since the forces of nature would sustain them. In this way, the team maximized the space of the courtyard with many different plants while also staying true to its core values of environmentally-conscious sustainability.

Plans that are intended to promote an eco-friendly environment often require many funds, and that can be an off-putting factor for many. However, the Green Team had no trouble campaigning its efforts through writing, courtesy of Ms. Lewis, and was thus able to cover the expenses through grant money from an organization called Sustainable New Jersey. The benches made from recycled materials were covered by the grant, amounting to roughly $2,000 of funding. The club also raised money on its own through the sale of reusable bags and water bottles, as well as movie screenings that promote environmental awareness surrounding issues such as water and plastic overconsumption.  These funds provided the seven trees currently planted in the courtyard, as well as future plantings.

Drafted grants have also provided the school with four water stations that promote the use of reusable water bottles. Ms. Lewis expressed the concern the Green Team has towards the regression of water resources. “Water is going to be the new gold as wars will be waged based on who has water access, and who doesn’t,” Ms. Lewis said. “It will determine the wealth of a country and the viability of its population.” In this sense, it is clear that the Green Team harbors many ambitions towards a variety of environmental concerns that all collect under the same umbrella goal of sustainability.

Just as many environmental efforts are only now beginning to take root, the ambitions of our green army are just starting to take hold. However, every step towards more sustainability brings us that much closer to achieving a green space and an aware community. In the next month or so, the green team will contemplate what further plants to add, and will select which native grasses it will use. A critical component in the spreading of awareness around the school lies within the student body. Green Team meetings are open to anyone, and are typically held every other Wednesday of the month. If you cannot attend, there are other ways you can support the team’s mission. Whether it be by word of mouth, or by opting to use reusable water bottles and recycling when possible, everything makes a difference, no matter how small it may seem to you. With each step in the right direction, we are that much closer to reaching the green grass on the other side.