By Molly Majewicz
Right now, we are in limbo between two large, LVAIC-wide events: the sustainability conference and the Social Research Social Justice Conference that will be held this coming Friday. It is the perfect time to recognize how well college campuses have been integrating sustainability efforts into everyday life.
Colleges in the Lehigh Valley have been taking significant steps to lessen their environmental impact. Schools like Lehigh University and Lafayette University have “eco-reps” that help teach incoming students sustainable habits that are easy and effective, as well as hold various programs throughout their freshmen orientation week. At Muhlenberg College, clubs like EnAcT and the Community Garden Club work to bring ecological, environmental, and sustainable awareness to campus through discussions and activities.
So why aren’t primary education institutions—high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools—following the example of these colleges? It is so important to start sustainability education early. If kids grow up learning about it, they’ll be more aware and proactive as adults. Systemic change is extremely challenging; but if elementary schools, for example, were to start integrating sustainability lessons into their kindergarten curriculum, imagine how conscious and activity engaged in combating environmental issues they would be by the time they reached high school.
There are few primary schools already taking action in this regard. The social studies teacher at the Seven Generations Charter School in Emmaus, for example, has already figured out ways to introduce topics like national and international environmental policy, the impact of global warming, and corporations’ consideration towards sustainability—all staying within the state-regulated curriculum.
If more schools in the Lehigh Valley could work these important issues into their lesson plan, it would greatly improve the awareness and critical thought processes of young, impressionable students. Imagine the kind of large-scale social change those kids could make once sustainability has been ingrained into our school systems. They would grow up having already been introduced to the environmental and climate problems at hand, and they would be one step closer to finding a systematic solution to our human impact. It is incredibly important that we “plant the seed” early.