BY ROMAN GIOGLIO | May 2, 2017
WJ Green Team is Walsh Jesuit’s club of 20-30 students and faculty committed to making our school more sustainable and aware of environmental injustices. This is the first year our team has been together and great progress has been made including the installation of water bottle filling stations, shifting from styrofoam plates to bio-plates, numerous awareness projects, and a trash audit. We look toward the future and are ensuring that this team grows and our school becomes more environmentally friendly and conscious in future years.
One of the greatest pleasures of my time at Walsh Jesuit has been witnessing my community (students, teachers, faculty) rise together to be more sustainable. I started this team a quarter way through the year, and I thought we could not make a serious impact. However, despite my beliefs, we have been able to successfully cultivate change. As we walk through the halls, Green Team members are constantly reminded that we are succeeding when students say, “I saw your video! And I have decided to switch to a reusable bottle,” or, “I saw the trash audit video and finally I know how to use the confusing bins that we have!” Little moments like these reveal the transformation that is happening in the hallways of Walsh Jesuit.
The trash audit, our most recent project, has been a huge success and the findings are hitting the hearts of students and faculty. After the trash audit, we filmed and produced a video to raise awareness on our environmental impact from our waste and how we can do better to inspire community effort. Played in theology classes, tweeted, and emailed out to students, this film has reached many students and faculty, making a monumental difference in our trash stream.
Fr. O’Connor (Fr. OC), a beloved Jesuit resident on campus who is actively involved in student life and teaches a few senior classes, comments, “I never bought recyclable grocery bags in my life until I watched the WJ Green Team video. Now I am even more conscious of my placement of paper and recyclable items, and I’m glad this is catching on in northeast Ohio.” Fr. OC was surprised by how much food we are throwing away regularly and reminds our school, “We all need to do our part.” He even referenced Pope Francis, a classic Jesuit tactic, highlighting that Walsh is beginning the fight against our “throw-away culture.”
Senior Dan Varnish led the trash audit to a success at Walsh Jesuit, and he is reaping the benefits by witnessing a metamorphosis in the school. Varnish notices “a new spark” in the students to be environmentally aware. “Because of our relentless effort to promote environmentally friendly waste habits, I’ve noticed that not only are students more actively pursuing interest in what we [WJ Green Team] do, but also improving their own waste management habits,” shares Varnish. Varnish realizes he has “felt a more powerful sense of what being a responsible and loving Christian is” after leading the trash audit.
Matt Flinchbaugh, a junior member of the Green Team, comments, “Since the Ignatian Carbon Challenge was introduced to me earlier in the year, I have been intrigued by how my faith can be intertwined with the environment and the world around me. I never knew how big an impact one person could have until I started to change what I was doing to benefit the environment.” He added, “The trash audit really opened my eyes to see how much more we could do as a community. It’s great to see how the trash audit helped people start to utilize the different bins in the commons and change what they are doing to help benefit our environment.” One of the hardest tasks to complete when fighting for environmental justice is convincing others to alter their habits. I believe the Green Team’s message are beginning to break through in the student’s everyday actions, and we are providing them with a new lens to look at our world.
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Take a look at the video below on our trash audit and witness why so many are changing their daily habits at Walsh Jesuit to be more environmentally aware…
Roman Gioglio (’17) is Senior Class President at Walsh Jesuit in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Last summer he underwent a life-altering experience during an immersion trip to Immokalee, Florida where he discovered a love of helping others. This discovery was further developed when he participated in ISN’s 2016 Ignatian Family Teach-In, where he cultivated a passion for justice. After ending his career in soccer as a captain of Walsh’s varsity team, he stumbled upon ISN’s Ignatian Carbon Challenge, and from there he has been in a constant endeavor to integrate sustainability and raise awareness on environmental injustices at his school with a club he pioneered: WJ Green Team.