Glencoe High School students to plant trees to offset paper use
Even in the digital age, high schoolers use a lot of paper.
But three environmentally minded Glencoe High School students recently started an initiative to make up for the school's paper usage by planting trees.
Next month, Megan Lin, Bri Moloney and Eliana Pinkert plan to plant 165 trees — equivalent to replacing 1.65 million sheets of paper — throughout Hillsboro.
The Glencoe juniors, who are all part of the school's Environmental Impact Club, started the project after learning from their club faculty advisor about the national organization Tree-Plenish. The organization allows students to create tree-planting events to offset their school's paper usage and then ships tree saplings to be planted.
"We were just looking for more ways to get involved and do things, especially with distance learning," Lin said.
For weeks, people have been ordering trees to be planted in their yards and volunteering to plant trees on March 13.
By Feb. 11, people had ordered 119 Douglas firs and quaking aspens out of the students' 165-tree goal.
A couple of people ordered as many as 20 trees, Pinkert said.
Although Tree-Plenish encourages students to set a tree-planting goal equivalent to their school's annual paper usage, the Glencoe students wanted to aim higher.
Tree-Plenish estimated the school used 1.65 million sheets of paper annually, based on the number of teachers and students. But after the students asked the school's front office staff how much paper they order annually, staff said the school used about half of Tree-Plenish's estimate during the 2018-19 school year.
"We decided to keep that big goal, because why not make more of a difference?" Moloney said.
The students also partnered with the Hillsboro School District and Hillsboro Parks & Recreation to involve people who want to participate but don't have yard space for another tree.
People who want to buy a tree can do so, and the school district and Hillsboro officials will plant them at parks or on school campuses, the students said.
The students say the project was an opportunity to take the personal sustainability decisions they make and their interest in environmental science and activism to the next level.
"I pride myself on shopping second-hand. A couple years ago, my mom and I got really into vintage clothing," said Pinkert, who has been a vegetarian her whole life.
Moloney was a vegetarian, but she recently decided to become vegan, like her dad, after starting to learn more about the environmental impacts of the meat and dairy industries, she said.
Lin says she was inspired by the activism of American youth, including the survivors of the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and people involved in the Zero Hour campaign, which is aimed at educating people about climate change policy.
With the impacts of climate change becoming increasingly apparent, they believe such local actions are imperative, they said.
The students said next year, their goal will be to help students at other Hillsboro schools to start their own Tree-Plenish events.
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