How sustainable is Urbana High School?


Grace Nelson, Reporter

Over the past couple of years, we have seen a trend in sustainability. As the climate crisis continues to show more threat, many people, especially the younger generations have taken more responsibility in creating a more sustainable lifestyle. My question is, how have public schools been addressing this problem? Let’s take a look at our school and FCPS as a whole.
Let’s backtrack a bit. First we need to understand what sustainability is. According to the internet, the definition of economic sustainability is, “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.” In other words, sustainability is the responsibility of conserving our planet’s natural resources and global ecosystems. Recently, we have been seeing more sustainable lifestyles, brands, and efforts globally from communities. But what about schools? Let’s take a look at some certified green schools…
The MAEOE (Maryland Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education) is a non-profit organization that “encourages, engages and empowers our community to understand, responsibility, use and promote the natural word.” Basically, they promote environmental awareness in Maryland public schools. On their website, they have a list of “Green Schools” or schools that are putting forth the effort to reduce their waste. Thankfully, Urbana High School is on this list and has been since 2020. Yes, Urbana may be a Green School but how effective are we? Let’s take a look at what Urbana is doing.
As we have all probably heard in announcements or assemblies, Urbana encourages their students to use the compost in the cafeteria, as well as recycling in class. In an article written by Katryna Perera, Urbana students and staff describe the new compost in the cafeteria. Students all created paper hands and “pledged to compost and recycle.” That was the 2019-2020 school year. How have things changed since then? I surveyed some students, asking them about their habits at school. Out of 15 students from various grades, the majority packs lunch. When asking whether or not they used the compost, none of them said they fully use the compost. In fact, most students will throw their trash away in the same bin. From looking in the compost station in my lunch shift, I never really see them used. This brings up the next question. Urbana may be a certified green school, but do the students have the same mindset?

When I asked the Journalism class about their thoughts on Urbana’s sustainability, they all had similar responses: “Not really. Even if Urbana tried to be environmentally friendly, I feel like a lot of the students wouldn’t even try and support it,” says one student. “I’m not really sure, Urbana is definitely making good strides towards being environmentally friendly but isn’t really there yet. All progress is good progress though,” says another. And, “I think, compared to other schools, Urbana is taking more steps to become environmentally friendly.” In the end, Urbana is doing a good job at creating a sustainable school environment, but ultimately, it’s up to the students to take responsibility and make it happen. What are your thoughts on the topic? How do you think Urbana could get their students more involved?