What’s next for Los Altos High School as a Green Ribbon School?


Rohan Vaswani

Los Altos High School was named a Green Ribbon School due to taking extensive action regarding environmental health, such as the implementation of solar panels for energy conservation. Despite the high earning award, Green Team believes there are many improvements students and the LAHS community can still make.

Dear Los Altos,

As Green Team Co-President, it is truly a great honor to be able to refer to Los Altos High School as a Green Ribbon School. For those of you who missed it, this past April, LAHS earned the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools’ (ED-GRS) highest award. This special award is given to schools who excel in their environmental actions and projects, health and wellness areas and environmental education. LAHS would not have been able to receive this award without the contributions from dedicated students, teachers, administrators and staff members over the years.

Achieving nationwide recognition for our school’s environmental efforts is an honor, but we should not treat it as a stopping point. Instead of remaining at a standstill, as a community, we need to focus on what needs to be done next. There is always room for improvement!

I do acknowledge and whole-heartedly appreciate the countless areas LAHS excels in regarding environmentalism. For one, there are various flourishing clubs making a green impact. Whether that be through promoting laws that protect the coral reefs, fighting for bee-friendly native flora and even planting trees, there are more than a handful of ways for students to get involved right here on campus.

LAHS also conserves water by installing refillable water bottle stations on campus and switching from single-use plastic water bottles to reusable aluminum Pathwater bottles. Additionally, LAHS implemented distance-based restrictions on our parking permits and continues to promote anti-idling by posting signs at pick-up locations in order to reduce carbon emissions. And, in our parking lot, energy conservation is practiced through the implementation of the solar panels, while the charging stations encourage electric vehicle usage. These are just some of the many ways LAHS makes a green impact.

Now that we are back on campus, LAHS students and staff can finally make an even greater impact on the environment by properly sorting their food scraps and containers at brunch and lunch times. Diverting food waste away from landfills starts by ensuring only food waste goes into the green compost bins. If students put items like drink cans, plastic forks, bags or cookie wrappers into the green compost bins, the contents of that bin are contaminated and it must be sent to the landfill. Reading that sentence probably took longer than it would to throw your trash into the correct bin. Remember: Green is for food waste, blue is for everything else. Being conscious about the waste bins we’re using will do a part in saving our planet Earth.

Student fundraisers and events on campus should also be modified to be 100 percent zero waste. Whether this be by changing the conventional ketchup and mustard packets to be replaced by a pump to reduce waste, or by making sure that the clubs tabling at the Holiday Fair are using wooden or bamboo utensils instead of plastic ones, we can take greater strides toward making a difference.

In addition to making our actions at school count, we as students can contact both state and national legislators to pass laws that will tackle the climate crisis. We can benefit not just our community but the nation as a whole. By raising our voices, together, we can make a greater difference on local communities that are hit first and hit hardest by the impacts of climate change, as well as educate those around us.

The mention of all of these areas for growth is not to diminish the prestige of the GRS award. It is a well-earned recognition for the great strides LAHS has taken, a marker that will act as an indication of the even greener, more sustainable, campus and community we strive to be a part of in the future.

So the next time your friends start to throw their unfinished pizza in the “everything else” blue bin, redirect them to the green compost bin instead. Or the next time you are reaching for your keys to get in the car and meet your friends a couple streets away, bike or walk instead. Bring reusable containers instead of single use ziplocks. Bring your own water bottle instead of buying a plastic one. Reuse your folders from previous years. The list goes on.

Actions such as these, although they may seem small, are the crucial steps we must take to continue our fight for our planet. We are all a part of this fight — do your part to help take a stand against climate change!

And as always, be green, not mean!

Diya Gupta, Co-President, LAHS Green Team