Photo courtesy of Alex Economou
With only nature and a small hiking group surrounding her, senior Chloe McKerr embarked on a 30 day backpacking trip through Alaska this past summer. McKerr, along with many other South students and teachers, consider themselves to be very conscious about the environment that they live in, and pursue many activities that are eco-friendly.
According to McKerr, her leaders emphasized being eco-friendly throughout the trip because they were visitors in the environment and could not leave any trace of their waste.
“We would have to hike miles away just to find a water source and then we would have to purify it,” McKerr said. “The effort to get your water made it so much more precious, and we were really conservative about it because it had to last the entire day of hiking and cleaning and washing our hands. People don’t even think about how much [water] they are using or where it even comes from.”
Mckerr said she is aware the environment needs help, and is trying to make changes in her lifestyle habits. According to McKerr, she is always trying to conserve her resources to diminish her ecological footprint, such as reusing water bottles instead of plastic ones, or taking shorter showers.
“I used to shop at a lot of big mainstream stores like Forever 21 and Topshop, but then I learned about how it’s destructive to the environment, so I’ve moved towards thrift shopping for all of my clothes,” Mckerr said.
Mckerr explains that this change was not difficult due to her childhood experiences. By going to sleepaway camp at a young age and frequently visiting Utah, she spent a lot of time outdoors, which allowed her to appreciate the earth.
“When I was 10, I went to a sleepaway camp that really emphasized being environmentally friendly while camping,” McKerr said. “They taught us to appreciate the earth and what it gives us, [and we learned] to recycle and use compost. Through that, they taught me why it’s important to be environmentally friendly and to love and care for the environment.”
Amongst the students at GBS who are actively caring for the environment, there are teachers that are doing the same. Lisa Pavic, biology and AP Environmental Science teacher, feels the same passion for the environment that McKerr does. Pavic found her love of nature through studying abroad in places like Mexico.
“I got into ecology, tropical ecology, and that just peaked my interests,” Pavic said. “I love being in nature and I loved just seeing different places.”
According to Pavic, she liked studying ecology so much that she decided to change her choice in her career path. Pavic said that not only did she realize her love for nature, but she found that she wanted to help preserve nature for others to enjoy as well.
“I went in wanting to be a doctor and taking a bio and medical path,” Pavic said. “After I did [a study abroad] program, I [realized] ecology is way more my thing. I wanted to see those places be around for a long time, for my kids and for me to enjoy, because at the rate of what’s happening that might not exactly happen.”
Senior Alex Economou is actively trying to help preserve the nature that he and others love so much. According to Economou, he takes part in Model United Nations and has been speaking about the environmental program since freshman year. Economou said that the knowledge he has acquired about this subject has furthered his passion.
“While doing the research, I became fascinated on how the environment can affect the way humans live and how important it is,” Economou said. “Without having a healthy environment, we won’t be able to survive.”
Similar to McKerr and Pavic, Economou also believes that it’s easy for others to get involved in helping the environment. He believes it starts with the little things in your daily life. Economou understands the significance of little changes in helping the planet.
“If you see something on the floor … go pick it up and throw it in the recycling bin,” Economou said. “You don’t know what immediate impact that could make, [but] in the end, it will have a bigger, positive impact.”
Both Economou and McKerr hope that they can continue their minimalist lifestyle throughout college and into the future.
“I know I’m just one person, but if everyone were to make a change little by little, any small change makes a difference,” McKerr said. “That’s meaningful enough for me to live the way that I do.”