Does Westtown Care about the Environment?


Joshua Thangaraj

Plant Sale organizing down at Westtown’s greenhouse.

Joshua Thangaraj, Editor

“I think Westtown did as good of a job as they could last year” – Isabel Yuste ‘22, Green Coalition Head

In recent years, Westtown has been taking steps to reduce its negative impact on the environment. However, many of the school’s actions are unknown to students, making it seem, at times, like the administration has not shown enough attention to the issue, especially through the pandemic.

Unbeknownst to most, Westtown works with the Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants, who advise the administration in making green decisions in terms of shipping, waste reduction, energy usage, and more. One change made through this is the Mini-Bin Waste Program, which was implemented this past December to “increase awareness and responsibility regarding waste generation” and “significantly reduce the number of plastic bags in our waste stream” according to  Dean of Finance and Operations, Carolyn Hapeman.

Locally sourced food is also a major way that the school promotes sustainability. The impact of this doesn’t garner much attention but reducing shipping distance and supporting local farmers are huge actions that attest to the school’s efforts in tackling climate change.

However, the school faced some setbacks in these efforts due to the emergence of COVID-19.

“Our Sustainability Committee was not active for two years,” Hapeman said. “In addition, we had/have an increase in disposables in the dining room.”

Not only this, but Isabel Yuste ’22, a current head of the Green Coalition, spoke about how losing  in-person community collection for most of last year affected sustainability initiatives.

“Collection was a place to bring enthusiasm about sustainability into the community, so it was harder to get people to make individual lifestyle changes without it,” Yuste said.

In spite of these challenges, students in the Green Coalition last year took their passion for sustainability to the local government and did what they could to restore the environment. Along with this, the administration has plans “to weave sustainability more intentionally into the curriculum of each division” in the near future,  Hapeman said.

Toby Zuckerberg, Class of ’21, who was a Green Coalition head for two years and completed a sustainability deep dive during his time here, believes that climate change is “perhaps the most important issue” that the world will face in the near future, and that more intervention is necessary immediately.

“It feels like we’re shouting at them [the student body], but we have to keep shouting to get things done,”  said Zuckerberg.