Planting seeds of social change


Claire Moore '22

Youth activists collaborate to initiate global action this Earth Day.

In honor of this year’s Earth Day, world leaders and youth climate activists collaborated to form policy proposals surrounding environmental issues in the Earth Day Live global seminar April 20 through April 22.  The topics included reforestation efforts, regenerative agriculture, environmental justice, and cleanups, according to  At Sacred Heart Greenwich, students and faculty engage in sustainable initiatives to promote environmental consciousness. 

Earth Day marks the inauguration of modern environmentalism movements in 1970.  Nearly 51 years ago, 20 million Americans participated in national protests addressing industrial development’s impact on both the climate and public health.  These rallies led to legislative action surrounding conservation as well as the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency to sponsor scientific research regarding climate change.  The legacy of the first Earth Day continues to inspire civic activism surrounding national and local policy changes, according to

Environmental advocates Ms. Greta Thunberg, Ms. Alexandria Villaseñor, and Ms. Licypriya Kangujam shared their conservation initiatives at the Earth Day Live summit.  Claire Moore ’22

Scientists predict that climate change will continue as global temperatures keep increasing.  Members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predict a 7.5-degree temperature rise over the next century, according to  Although the extent of environmental damage will vary, its impacts are already present in the forms of melting glaciers, forest fires, and droughts.  Many animals have migrated due to rising sea levels and warmer climates, according to  Research shows that increased pollution also has a detrimental effect on public health through decreased water and air quality leading to disease, according to   

Dr. Kristina Gremski, Upper School Science Teacher and Chair of Upper School Science Department, shared how small actions can help decrease environmental damage.  

“The best way to reduce the negative effects of pollution is to limit consumption,” Dr. Gremski said.  “Everything we purchase requires the use of fossil fuels to produce it and thus contributes to pollution.  Also, if possible buy products that are made out of recycled material.  You can reduce your environmental footprint by being selective as a consumer.  I’ll give one example from my own life.  When I was getting married, I chose to purchase a wedding ring made out of recycled gold, instead of newly mined gold.  Gold mining uses a toxic chemical called cyanide, which can leach into the environment and contaminate drinking water.  So, I wanted to buy a recycled gold ring, so that my purchase would have a smaller environmental impact.”

The Earth Day Live summit focused on educating its participants on environmental activism with a diverse array of panels, speeches, and discussions.  For example, the “We Shall Breathe” presentation centered around the connection between climate crises and poverty, police brutality, and the coronavirus pandemic through a racial justice lens, according to  The event ended with elected officials, activists, nonprofit innovators, and youth leaders revealing environmentally-friendly initiatives such as the Canopy Project, climate literacy education, and a worldwide trash cleanup, to counteract climate change beyond federal legislation.

Over the past four years, the Trump Administration overturned nearly 100 climate initiatives surrounding air pollution and emissions, drilling and extraction, animal safety, and water pollution, according to The New York Times.  Climate experts argue that the deregulatory actions significantly increased greenhouse gas emissions and led to increased fatalities from poor air quality.  Although the Biden Administration reversed the majority of this legislature, climate change remains a bipartisan issue, leading to a high percentage of youth involvement in environmental activism.

Young climate activists Ms. Greta Thunberg, Ms. Alexandria Villaseñor, and Ms. Licypriya Kangujam spoke at the Earth Day Live workshop.  Their speeches addressed emerging green technologies, citizen science, and how innovative thinking can rehabilitate ecosystems across the globe, according to  Generation Z contains a high number of environmental advocates who gained the attention of the press through social media and a number of national protests including the 2019 Climate Strike, according to nature.comAs a result, public awareness and concern for climate change have increased in the last two years.  

The Sacred Heart Community Service Team chose sustainability as April’s service theme to honor Earth Day and bring attention to the many adverse effects of climate change.  Junior Mary Hawthorn, Community Service Ambassador and rising head of the Sacred Heart for Sustainability Club, discussed environmental activism on King Street. 

“This April, we have organized many events revolving around the service theme, such as a jean drive where we will collect used jeans to donate to the UltraTouch organization,” Mary said.  “UltraTouch takes recycled jeans and transforms them into environmentally friendly insulation for homes.  We will also have a civvies day at the end of the month to raise money as well as showing informational films about the climate issue for students to watch during Advisory.  We hope that the community gains a better understanding of the importance of making sustainable choices.”  

Since its formation last year, the Sacred Heart for Sustainability Club has implemented many new environmentally-conscious initiatives within the school community.  The club’s overall goal is to bring attention to climate change and encourage sustainable practices.  In January 2020, the club sold reusable plastic cups to raise money and reduce the school’s use of plastic.  Currently, the club’s members are working to add “Meatless Mondays” into the school dining plan.  Mary provided further insight into Sacred Heart for Sustainability’s most recent endeavors.

The Sacred Heart for Sustainability Club promotes environmentally-friendly additions to the school community.  Claire Moore ’22

“Meatless Mondays are a simple, yet highly effective change that will positively impact our school’s carbon footprint, alongside informing our community about the meat industry’s high contribution to environmental pollution,”  Mary said.  “Annie O’Connor and I are the rising heads of the Sacred Heart for Sustainability Club, and based on the feedback we receive we would love to continue this project next year.  Additionally, we are working with a representative from Yale University’s Sustainability program to help us brainstorm and make our club even more successful.”

Earth Day serves as a yearly reminder to protect the environment, according to  The Earth Day Live event integrated presentations on various environmental issues, youth speeches, and global collaboration to further climate change reversal policies.  Activists within the Sacred Heart community and beyond continue to promote sustainability to protect future generations.  

“The climate crisis has already been solved,” Ms. Thunberg said, according to  “We already have the facts and solutions.  All we have to do is wake up and change.”

Featured Image by Claire Moore ’22