York’s Environmental clubs adapt and weigh in on environmental issues during the pandemic
November 23, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic presented new challenges for York’s environmentally focused clubs. Both Garden Club and Eco Club rely heavily on in-person collaboration to further environmental initiatives within the York community. Typically, Garden Club maintains several campus greenspaces, including both butterfly and vegetable gardens, while Eco Club coordinates environmental projects to promote sustainability around Elmhurst. With the Elmhurst CUSD 205 decision to continue fully remote learning through Nov. 30, as well as the recent rise in Illinois COVID-19 cases, the primary missions of these clubs are now on hold.
Despite the circumstances, however, York’s environmental clubs remain committed to promoting environmental initiatives within the Elmhurst community. For instance, Eco Club recently held their outdoor “Pumpkin Smash” event to compost leftover Halloween pumpkins on Nov. 7 while Garden Club continues to collect compost in preparation for next year’s gardens.
“Garden Club has taken a hit during the pandemic, since we were not able to meet in person,” said club sponsor and science teacher Ronny Rayan. “The club’s emphasis is on tending to three established gardens, which requires manual labor, collaboration and being present. We are currently in the process of collaborating and brainstorming to think about ways to continue the club remotely.”
Still, York’s environmental clubs are all too aware that though the world has changed over the course of the last year, the clock is still ticking on key environmental issues such as climate change.
“Protecting the environment means making conscious decisions in your daily life that will positively impact the planet, be they big or small,” Eco Club member, senior Hannah Lonergan said. “Everyone has the ability to make a difference, and if we can all realize that, I think we can really change the course that we’re headed in in terms of environmental issues like climate change.”
Advocacy and education are still the main goals of both Eco Club and Garden Club.Their members recognize they must adapt with the times to promote sustainability and combat the global climate crisis currently facing the world.
“Environmental initiatives like climate change advocacy and exploring clean, renewable energy options are so important because they not only educate people about our world and changing environment, but they also make efforts to protect and conserve the environment,” said Eco Club member, junior Ciara Belfiore. “I think during the pandemic these initiatives are still so necessary. The way we handle projects and go about these initiatives may change but they’re still more important than ever.”
Though the way they go about their mission has changed, York’s environmental clubs remain steadfast in promoting awareness of environmental issues.
“Just making little changes in your life can make a huge difference in the long run,” said Garden Club member, senior Thea Vallicelli. “It’s becoming increasingly easier to cut down on driving, choose better food choices, or use cleaner energy.COVID has changed our club a lot, and it’s been really hard to get together for gardening. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t slowly help the earth, even in this hard time.”