Hi Berkeley High School (BHS)! We are Anya Draves and Talulla Miller-Ross, the co-presidents of the BHS Zero Waste Club. The mission of our club is to help members of our community do their part in the fight against climate change by teaching them ways to reduce waste in their daily lives. We do research and look into ways of making our everyday activities more sustainable. Using the information we learn from research, we present to and have discussions with the members of our club.
An important aspect of our mission is spreading ways to reduce waste to a wider audience. In order to accomplish this, we’re working on making short and informative videos with some of the tips, facts, and ideas that we learn about, in addition to posting on our Instagram (@bhszerowaste). The hope is to promote these ideas to as many people in our community as we can, and then people can implement whatever zero waste lifestyle changes they choose. It is very important to us that the information we share not be taken as requirements or even requests, but merely suggestions. Reducing plastic waste should be something people want to do and are eager to learn how to do, and we don’t believe that guilt-tripping is the way to make that happen. Rather, we encourage club members as well as our wider audience to find what works best for them, and make changes that they want to and can make. Zero waste activist Anne Marie Bonneau said it beautifully: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
We also try to promote our mission throughout Berkeley’s community and businesses. Recently, we launched a petition asking Berkeley Bowl to switch from plastic to compostable produce bags. We know that large companies account for the majority of the world’s plastic waste, so we want to do our part and hold them accountable. So far, we have 348 signatures, and appreciate all the support we can get! Berkeley Bowl has been resistant to making the switch to compostable bags, but in the meantime, we’ve also been trying to put up signs in Berkeley Bowl encouraging people to be mindful of the plastic they use. We’ve also sent out a survey to Berkeley Bowl customers to learn their opinions on compostable produce bags, with the hope of showing Berkeley Bowl that shoppers support this switch. Change needs to occur on a larger scale than local grocery stores, but we know that these big changes must start locally. Small changes make a huge difference when it comes to saving the planet.
Currently, our Earth is facing a climate crisis that we simply cannot ignore. Many of us, as youth, are very frustrated with the lack of action being taken on corporate and government levels to combat such an existential threat. What we aim to do is both persuade change in local businesses as well as help people make changes on the individual level. Even if something you do feels small, it actually has a monumental impact on the Earth, especially when you turn it into a habit or start to inspire others around you to follow your example. Maybe opting for a reusable water bottle instead of plastic once doesn’t feel like much, but when you make that same choice every day for the rest of your life, it really does add up.