Before college, the most I did to protect the planet and promote environmental care was participate in my middle and high school Recycling Clubs, in which students would pick up recyclables around school and put them in recycling bins outside for pickup once a week.
Coming to Sacred Heart, I thought that there would be no such thing as a Recycling Club because I expected recycling to be something that people automatically did. After all, there were plenty of recycling bins on campus, and Sacred Heart promoted itself as a sustainable and environmentally-friendly school.
However, I quickly learned that there is a big difference between promoting sustainability and actually being sustainable. To better understand how Sacred Heart could become a more sustainable school and ways I could personally care for the environment, I joined the Environmental Club in my freshman year. During club meetings, I learned about their sustainability plans for the university and their volunteer opportunities, such as beach and park clean-ups.
Also during my freshman year, I took a First Year Seminar class with the theme of “Biosphere and Human Fears.” In this course, we discussed the relationship between humans, the environment, and the ways our fears are connected to climate change and other environmental issues. As part of my final project, my group and I researched and proposed better ways for Sacred Heart to promote recycling on campus. In doing this project, I learned about local environmental concerns and connected with members of Sustainable Fairfield Task Force (SFTF), a group of adults working to make Fairfield—and the state of Connecticut—a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly place.
While working with SFTF, I was offered the opportunity to join a branch of their group called the Sustainable Youth Connecticut (SYCT), a group of middle and high schoolers working locally and state-wide to promote sustainable efforts. It has now been just under a year that I have been a part of SYCT, and we have grown to include college students and to have several subgroups focused on different initiatives. In addition, I became one of the student leaders during the beginning of the pandemic, and I am still amazed at the steps our group has taken to make Connecticut a more sustainable state.
While SYCT is always recruiting and the Environmental Club at Sacred Heart welcomes new members throughout the semester, I am especially excited this semester in particular because of a new sustainability plan developed by the Environmental Club. Starting this month, the club, along with professors from the Biology Department, will begin building a pollinator garden at West Campus.
Pollinator gardens encourage beneficial animals and insects like birds, butterflies, and bees to come and have a safe place to thrive. There will also be a scenic path for visitors to walk along as they go through the garden. Volunteers from the university will clear the area and begin planting later this month.
Through my experiences so far, I’ve learned that caring for the environment is a community effort. You can’t be an effective activist alone and expect to be able to do everything by yourself. And sometimes, being an activist can come as a surprise—but it is well worth the time and effort to accept the title of activist and continue to make a positive difference in the world.