Santa Cruz Sentinel, Opinion: “Waste-free Holiday Celebrations”

Santa Cruz Sentinel, 12/16/2019, Opinon, “Waste-free Holiday Celebrations,” by Lisa Catterall.

Periodically our faculty comes together to review our school’s mission statement and our three pillars of Academic Excellence, Positive Character Development, and Creative Self Expression. Often during our discussions, the idea of Environmental Stewardship as a fourth pillar arises. Whether it is a school pillar, a curriculum crossing all ages, or a shared value infused throughout the community, it is something we strive to model for our students and children.

While reducing plastic waste is a common goal in our homes and at our school, many of us deeply value the ability to bring our children joy during the celebrations of the holiday season. Simply put, it can be easy to forget our commitment to stewardship of the Earth at this time of year. In twelve years of teaching thoughtful and curious kids at Mount Madonna School, I’ve noticed that they feel empowered when we model the environmental principles we’re asking them to learn, uphold, and disseminate.

This year, I’m thinking more about how to balance my students’ requests for holiday parties and activities with our school’s environmental principles. I’m thinking about how to bring joy into my home this holiday season without plastic packaging, plastic ribbon, plastic food containers, and without being any part of the limited life cycle of a manufactured product.

On our annual freshmen trip to Catalina Island the students experience an institution that is very close to waste-free. It’s a school and a camp that grows a good part of its food, and manages to cater to enormous groups of students without one single-use product. There is a large building where broken things that might be discarded on the mainland are saved and worked back into usefulness. Read more

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