Planting Seeds of Change for Sustainability

From April 23 to 27, Havergal College celebrated Earth Week by participating in green initiatives led by the Environment Council. From handing out pine saplings in the Temerty Commons to a Day 9 excursion exploring urban beekeeping, the week championed the school’s commitment to the earth. “It was a great opportunity to bring awareness to some of the issues and innovations within the field,” says the Council’s co-head Gerol Fang, Grade 11.

The Environment Council is a relatively new entity, which previously existed as a club. Informed by the United Nations sustainable development goals, the group has been renamed the Sustainability Council for the 2018-19 school year and will cover topics such as health and well-being, responsible consumption and climate action. As passionate advocates for our earth, the Council’s mission is to “raise awareness of environmental issues and to help evaluate Havergal’s actions and decisions through the lens of sustainability,” says Lee Hamr, Science Teacher and Council advisor.

Partnering with the Environment Council, Rauni Whiteley, Food Service Director, has made gradual changes that have led to a significant shift in Havergal’s food sourcing. By building relationships with local food vendors to source fresh, seasonal ingredients, the program has reduced its food transportation and, as a result, carbon footprint. Grass-fed beef, apples, grains and dairy, such as cheese and yogurt, are just some of the staples available in the Hawkins Dining Hall.

Another notable shift in the program was the elimination of one-use items, such as bottled water, juice containers, disposable cups and plastic straws, as well as proper waste diversion practices. “Not only do these changes help to reduce waste, but they also reinforce the habit of reusing items instead of throwing them out,” explains Whiteley. She encourages students to continue to “be conscious of their habits and the impact they have on our environment,” she says. This sentiment is echoed by Denise Lee, Grade 11, an active member of the Council. “It’s important to teach students about the earth because they are the ones who will go out in the world to create change,” she says.

“Indifference is the force behind climate change. If no one cares, nothing will be done to change the state of the environment,” says the co-head of the Council, Elizabeth Harkness, Grade 11. Creating newly enhanced facilities such as green roofs, rooftop array panels and a three-storey BioWall, all of which adhere to the LEED® green building rating system—the pre-eminent program for the design, construction, maintenance and operation of high-performance green building—are some of the ways Havergal plans to sustain our earth and the 22 acres that the school is situated on.

Pictured above, from left: Andrea Bongers, Rauni Whiteley, Lisa Massie, Vince Alexander, Denise Lee, Gerol Fang and Elizabeth Harkness.