Student Meaghan Petersen is a strong advocate for sustainable living.
She’s only 18, but Meaghan Petersen is an ardent environmentalist who doesn’t mince words.
“The disrespect we show to our planet, this immense source of our wellbeing, is horrible,” she says. “We as a species have no right to claim the Earth and all its resources as our own. The sharing of it is essential to our survival and the survival of all living things. As a human race it is time to make a change.”
And Meaghan is contributing to that change as a member of the environmental club at East Northumberland Secondary School in Brighton. “Meaghan has shown exemplary environmental leadership in our group as well as at school, and many of the younger students look up to her,” says teacher Russell Knight. “She is an inspiration to all of us in demonstrating sustainable living.”
Meaghan explains how the club works. “We choose projects as a group in our meetings. Often members have ideas and we work together to make them feasible and exciting as well as ensuring they will help our environment in some way.” Some of those projects include:
» water bottle filling stations. “Our biggest ongoing initiative is campaigning for the installation of these stations throughout our school,” says Meaghan. “This would allow students to make the conscious choice to stay hydrated using a refillable BPA-free water bottle rather than the wasteful alternative.”
» Trees for Trees. “We sell native saplings in our area and donate the profits to a reforestation project on a chimpanzee reserve in western Uganda,” Meaghan explains.
» Adopt-A-Critter. Classes compete to symbolically “adopt” endangered wild animals at $100 each, with money going to the World Wildlife Fund for habitat protection and more.
» Earth Week. “We are planning many activities, including recycling challenges, a garbage-less lunch day, green day, no trash day, and more,” says Meaghan. “Then on Earth Day we will have an assembly that will focus on the major environmental issues, along with a guest speaker who will talk about the importance of shopping locally and in season.”
The work of the environmental group continues to enhance East Northumberland’s reputation as a green school.
Past accomplishments include mounting a solar panel assembly on the roof in 2011, which now generates approximately 47,000 kWh of energy annually that is sent back to the grid, and installing a wind turbine in 2009, after much fundraising. Both projects offset hydro costs at the school, thus reducing its carbon footprint.
The school has also instituted recycling and green waste systems to model responsible waste management for staff and students.
Meaghan is not sure yet about her future career plans, but of one thing she is certain. “I know I will live a life that focuses on the importance of protecting the Earth as well as living sustainably. I want to be part of a movement working towards solutions for our environmental problems.”