Many high school students who are also frequent beach-goers are all too familiar with environmental pollution, such as the tar balls from a recent Orange County oil spill currently washing up on San Diego beaches. Some students, however, are rallying together to combat pollution’s effects.
“We have collaborated with multiple local high schools, such as Del Norte High School, to organize webinars and beach cleanups,” said Dylan of Canyon Crest Academy’s Beachy Klean club.
Students report having been inspired to action by the environmental consequences of human action they’ve observed in their own communities.
“Some of the main pollution issues I have witnessed in my community are oil spills such as the recent one along the San Diego coast, and watching animals get injured from encountering plastic in their ecosystem,” said Tristan, the co-president of the Torrey Pines High School Save Our Oceans club. “We plan on several beach clean ups for the future and engage in fundraising to help support environmental organizations, and so far we have signed a petition to eliminate plastic in National Parks.”
Whether through beach cleanups, webinars, petitions, or initiatives, student environmental groups are actively working towards a greener future. Two TPHS clubs, the Urth Club and the Recycling Club, are aiming to improve their school’s recycling practices.
“The main focus of TP Recycling Club is to redirect recyclable material away from landfills,” TPHS Recycling Club President Gabrielle said. “Last year the Recycling Club hosted an event on campus where members posted informational posters on the blue recycling bins in order to educate students and staff on what can be recycled. The event was successful and the majority of the posters are still on the recycling bins.”
While schools in the district have recycling bins, that doesn’t guarantee that the items in the bins make it to a recycling facility. In 2019, the TPHS Falconer student newspaper reported that the school was out of compliance with the City of San Diego Recycling Ordinance, due to the fact that recyclable and trash waste are later mixed together.
“Right now we’re actually working with the nonprofit Clear Blue Sea in San Diego and the administration at the school to implement recycling programs,” TPHS Urth Club’s Zoe said. Zoe’s co-president Olivia explained that their goal is to implement a sustainable recycling program that isn’t in danger of collapsing once the club’s current leaders graduate.
“I think it gives a sense of meaningful support for a student to be actively engaged in helping their local community to reach a common goal,” Dylan said.
All interviewed students expressed their belief in the power of young voices to make change, and their excitement over the possibility of doing so in the coming year.