Green Schools and NGSS are proud to work with Olivia Gieger, a Senior at Wellesley High School, this year!
What are your personal goals as a NGSS leader this year?
As an NGSS leader, my personal goals are to connect more with the leadership team in order to spread ideas and initiatives among leaders and throughout schools in Massachusetts. I also hope to help increase and improve NGSS’s social media presence and create more awareness in my community about what we are doing and what other people can do to help the environment.
What do you want to focus on this year in terms of a platform: environmental awareness, projects, leadership or activism?
I want to focus on big projects this year. Especially in my town, projects have been rather slow over the past year, and after attending Boston Green Fest and talking to vendors and other student leaders, I was really motivated to bring some of the big projects that have worked in other towns to my town.
As a green student leader what is the one thing that you want students across US to talk about, listen to, or act on?
In my opinion, the most important thing for students to talk about across the country to talk about how they can make simple changes to daily habits to help the environment, whether it be carpooling, bringing a reusable water bottle, not getting a plastic bag, or turning down the thermostat a few degrees. Small steps like these are so important because it is something EVERYONE can do, without needing to be an activist or environmentalist, and these small changes will get kids thinking about their actions and the impact they have on the environment, which is so important to understand and consider as we, students, are the next generation that, as adults, will need to make the big changes in order to help the planet.
Tell us about your environmental service background or what got you interested in the environment?
I have been interested in the environment as long as I can remember. My first memory of being actively an environmentalist was when I was a fourth grader, I told people to recycle and not use plastic bags, but that was the extent of my environmentalism. When I was in sixth grade, I joined the middle school green team and had a really good experience; we had a great year and made a big mark at the school. Along the way, I made more connections with other green organizations, learned more and more about the environment and why we need to protect it and think somewhere then, during my first year of middle school, it clicked for me how important this work was and why we, students, need to be involved and take a stance for the environment, so I stayed part of the green team at my school and kept branching out to other organizations, and since then I’ve been hooked.
What are you most concerned about from a personal point of view?
From my personal point of view, I am really concerned about the big problems, problems I can’t fix alone. I worry a lot about things like my school green team and initiatives we’re doing in my town, but compared to issues like the level of carbon dioxide in the air and the disgusting amount of plastic in our ocean, those worries are petty. I am concerned about people and companies who refuse to change their habits and practices because it makes them money (at the cost of the environment), who stop environmentalist whenever there is hope for big, meaningful, policy change. This is my biggest concern: people will not understand the importance of their actions on the environment, and they will not rise to protect it.
What actions or projects will you work on this year at your school?
This year I hope to work on a big project at school. My green team set a goal to increase recycling and recycling awareness. We will also work to provide alternatives to disposable materials in our school and throughout the town as well. I hope that by the end of the school year we will have helped to implement a plastic bag ban or tax in our town and helped guide local restaurants with switching to sustainable materials for to go containers and the like. I would also really like to get a composting system in the works. Especially after meeting people with the resources to help us do that and talking to other kids who have successfully composted at their schools, I became really motivated to change this habit in my school because for the first time now I can really envision a way that would be plausible.