Talia’s Thoughts: The Growing Threat of Climate Change and the Lexington Public School System’s Response

Talia Alperin

Lexington High School has recently installed solar panels in all parts of its buildings, another action our school has taken to address the threat of climate change. The threat of climate change gives a false impression that we are doomed, but it’s important to realize that many solutions are underway, which require everyone to take action. LHS and Lexington Public Schools have already begun to play a role in saving the environment.

When I was younger, I was obsessed with saving the environment and protecting endangered species, so much so that it got a bit excessive. I’ve cooled down now, but my concern for the environment remains. Learning about climate change during my freshman year was harrowing. Our teacher showed us videos about what would happen if the temperature of the earth kept rising. The impacts are jarring – from melting ice caps to coral reef die-offs to the increased prevalence of disease – it makes my spine shiver. Climate change will threaten public safety and health, weaken the economy, and destroy biodiversity. 

Solutions to problems as large and complex as climate change require a multi-pronged approach. It’s much cheaper for businesses to mass-manufacture goods, which often harms the environment. Nevertheless, businesses, while powerful, are also at the mercy of consumer demand. With the exception of certain monopolies, the current market leaves room for consumer choice. This lets individuals, like us, support climate change by increasing  demand for eco-friendly goods and environmentally friendly institutions.

For many years now, LPS has been part of the solution. In 6th and 7th grade, I was a member of the Green Team at Clarke Middle School. I attended WIN meetings and sorted trash at lunch as a part of the “Slash the Trash” program. You may notice a group of Green Team volunteers doing the same thing at LHS. Being a member of the Green Team was a highlight of my experience at Clarke. I was a passionate kid making new friends and being surrounded by like-minded people who were dedicated to caring for the environment. The work of Green Teams alone, such as those at Clarke and LHS, saves tons of waste from being dumped into landfills. Demanding that more local institutions do the same and supporting companies that try to reduce their waste magnify this impact. Another way to start is by composting at home. The Town of Lexington offers composting services; all you have to do is store your food waste somewhere (my family stores it underneath the sink so it doesn’t stink up the kitchen) and every week, someone will come by to grab your food waste. The organic material will then get decomposed into fresh soil.

Reflecting back on my experiences at Clarke also reminds me of my drama teacher’s “Rubbish to Runway” gallery walk. Every year, my teacher would ask students to design garments out of disposed materials. Things that were thrown aside were repurposed into clothing for a gallery walk, of which the proceeds went to charity. A couple days ago, I saw an ad for a suitcase made out of recycled water bottles. It blew my mind. With advances in technology, such feats are becoming more and more attainable. Aside from being cool and trendy, like the garments made for my teacher’s gallery walk, buying items made from recycled material is a much more environmentally friendly alternative.

In our local communities we can each contribute to our part. Local clubs such as Envirothon and LEAF are working to advocate for environmental protection. The solar panels on our school’s roof are just one part of the solution. LHS has begun to play its role in protecting the environment. Now, I’m asking you to do the same.