In 2015, Pope Francis issued a clarion call for the world to act on our current environmental challenges, and as part of the school’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, Saint Francis High School is doing its part to respond.
This fall, Saint Francis has started a new waste diversion program, in which the school collects compost material, mixed paper and containers for recycling. New waste containers can be found throughout campus and in classrooms and offices. Students and educators have welcomed and embraced this effort, even bringing awareness of this change by incorporating it at a recent school rally competition.
The change in waste management follows a recent school initiative to reduce plastic use on campus, with no plastic water bottles made available in the cafeteria. To continue in this direction of increased environmental stewardship, the next step would be to further reduce waste on campus by completing a waste audit and developing a reduction plan, says Emily Thomas, the school’s new sustainability coordinator.
These broadened efforts toward sustainability are part and parcel of the school’s commitment to social justice – of being a community that respects the dignity of all and acts with compassion towards all. Social justice along with environmental stewardship and economic stability are key components of sustainability.
“We talk about social justice and our obligation as Catholics to give to the less fortunate,” Ms. Thomas says. “There are ways to give back to the global community on a daily basis.”
In her role as sustainability coordinator, Ms. Thomas, who also teaches in the science department and moderates the Environmental Club, aims to develop a sustainability vision for the school in collaboration with the school administration; create action plans that can provide positive changes for the short and long term; and set up guidelines for school programs to consider how they can be more effective in terms of sustainability.
“I hope these efforts inspire everyone to make decisions that would make the world a better place,” says Ms. Thomas. “I also hope it inspires our students to take action and not feel helpless or hopeless. They can make a difference.”