Phillips Exeter Academy

Sophia Emy and Sophie Liu

January 31, 2020

Sustainability has not always been a prominent topic in my life because it was never part of my school curriculum. But through Exeter and through my own travel experiences, I have grown to recognize how important sustainability is in our lives. At Exeter, several efforts have emphasized how sustainability efforts can start from the bottom up. Events like the annual Climate Action Day and projects like establishing compostings bins in the dining halls and in each dorm get every student involved in some seemingly miniscule way, but those individual efforts combined can have a tremendous impact, especially given the large size of the school. 


I am also reminded of the importance of sustainability when I encounter nature in many ways. Through my travels to places like Switzerland with its rolling green hills or through my daily life in rural New Hampshire with snowy mountains and forests teeming with life, I interact with the natural world and am made aware once again that we should do whatever we can to preserve it. Because climate change is real and its effects are real. We have seen the scientific data and we have seen the new stories of hurricanes, extreme blizzards, and other natural disasters. It’s time we did something about it.


As a part of Gen Z, the generation that is being left to deal with the repercussions of climate change, climate change has always been something nagging me in the back of my head. But when facing the decay of an entire planet, it’s hard for individuals to feel as if they have any influence in the situation. However, each of us have a responsibility to understand the impact of even the small things we do every day, from choosing hand dryers over paper towels to composting our food instead of throwing it out. Sustainability doesn’t have to start with legislative change - if we want the world to change its ways, we all have to take part in the movement in order for it to succeed. 


Last year for Climate Action Day I went to the nearby woods to help remove garlic mustard, a non-native invasive species that was harming the part of New Hampshire’s ecosystem. Although pulling weeds was tedious and at times it felt like we were barely making a dent on such a large problem, I did gain some satisfaction from clearing out patches of land. By the end, we had several full garbage bags to show for our efforts. I don’t get many chances to go out in nature for a hands-on experience, but that day proved to me that everyone can make a difference, and it doesn’t matter how small. 


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