I’m helping to make Austin Net-Zero by: trying to change how my high school, Griffin School, disposes of waste and thinks about our environment.
Austin is green and we all want to keep it that way! As a community, we’re committed to reaching the target of Net-Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which will ensure a safe, healthy, vibrant Austin for many years to come. Here’s the story of how one person can make a difference.
Meet Lucas Brown, a high school senior at Griffin School. Lucas developed an interest in reducing waste at his school’s campus, which led him to create a proposal to keep more materials out of the landfill and get closer to becoming a zero-waste school. Recently, his efforts led to the Griffin School being awarded a Bright Green Future Grant to complete the project. We spoke with Lucas about his commitment to Net-Zero, what his toughest challenges have been, and what advice he has for others looking to live Net-Zero. Read more below.
I like to spend a lot of time outdoors and am always annoyed by finding trash outside. I noticed that my school also produces a lot of trash and it bothers me that it is not easier to recycle. Also, I want a nice campus with happy, healthy, non-grumpy people and this seemed like a nice way to contribute to that goal. My junior year, my class went on a trip to Heifer Ranch in Arkansas where they grow most of their own food. They also have replica housing of third world living conditions, including one that is a replica of a house in Appalachia. Seeing that house made me upset and really inspired me to take on food waste, and waste in general, as a senior year project.
I started the project by weighing our general output of trash and recycling to get a baseline of our landfill diversion rate. Then, I started adding some bins for recycling and removing other bins, adding signage, and making announcements to see how that affected the data. I also had a number of meetings and site visits to meet community members who have expertise in this area. Recently, we were awarded a Bright Green Future Grant to help us achieve a greater waste diversion rate by introducing commercial composting, expanded education, some changes to our lunch program, and more. My vision is to help the Griffin School become a zero-waste school.
One of my biggest challenges has been keeping my classmates motivated to make thoughtful choices about how they dispose of their trash.
It’s been a lot of fun! Having the full support of my school to make these positive changes has been great. We’ll be documenting the project to share lessons learned and successes with the community, which we’ll share on our school’s social media and on our blog.
Through this process, I have found that change takes time. My best advice is to gather a lot of data, and be prepared to move in small steps to make big changes.
To learn more about Austin's Net-Zero Goal, view the Community Climate Plan.
Share your Net-Zero contributions with us on Twitter or Facebook and use #NetZeroHero. If you know a Net-Zero Hero who should be recognized for their efforts, send your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org.