Planting Seeds of Environmental Awareness At MBHS

Tyler Wong, Staff Writer

The MBHS Environmental Club has, since its founding in late 2019, been a space for any MBHS student concerned about the state of the planet to talk about environmental issues and take action to help solve them. After a year of meeting remotely, the club has made concerted efforts to reestablish community on campus around environmental issues: the members recently undertook a project with Tree-Plenish funded by the Environmental Equity Fund to give away 48 saplings in order to offset the amount of paper consumed in our school and has recurringly collaborated with other clubs at school to educate community members about dangers such as climate change.

The club was founded by seniors Mia Cohen and Lily Maenza who were interested in giving students a safe space to vent their anxieties about environmental issues affecting our city or the world. “We just saw there needed to be a space for students to voice any frustrations or concerns about the climate crisis,” says Mia. Both wanted to also make the club as flexible as possible so students won’t have to worry about making a serious commitment to the club and could feel free to participate at any level. “Of course, it’s nice to have dedicated members where they’re here each week, so we understand that it doesn’t work out [for some students],” says Lily.

The club overall has high expectations in the coming months as they are inching closer to going all-in with their tree planting project on April 30. “We’re planning to do a lot more things on our Instagram page about the tree planting project so we can spread the word and get more people in our community involved,” says Olive Ephross, an environmental club member in charge of the club’s social media affairs. Members also hope to try to see if they can use this project to influence environmental awareness in our school. “I plan to…help to plant trees and other things to help make a difference,” says Will Moss, who makes posters to advertise the club’s events. 

Before signing up for this project, the MBHS environmental club explored various environmental problems affecting our city such as the proposed North Brooklyn pipeline. “We wanted to talk about local climate news [such as this issue] in the club and on social media,” says Lily. The club met with a climate activist who was working to hold back the fracking project. To educate members about the project and its perils, Lily and Mia recruited speakers to visit their club virtually. Jackie Weisberg from 350 Brooklyn, a climate organization, presented to students about the Williams pipeline.

The Environmental Club has also contributed to MBHS-wide events as well. During AAVA day in 2021, the club made a special presentation about the environmental and social effects of garment production in Bangladesh. “We wanted to focus on Bangladeshi women and children in the garment industry because we didn’t know a lot about this topic and we felt it was important to focus on global issues and not just issues in the United States,” says Olive. “A lot of the factories there have very poor working rights, but that’s the only job available.”

The club has continued to adapt to changes by transitioning back into full-time learning this year by working with Tree-Plenish. With the non-profit, Mia and Lily and other club members planned a tree planting event for April 30. This event, which drew students and families to school to collect trees to replant throughout the city, marked another great accomplishment in the environmental club trying to raise environmental awareness in our school.