The Los Altos High School Green Team’s fifth annual Students for Green High Schools Conference proved to be its largest yet.
Approximately 100 students from 20 schools throughout the Bay Area attended the conference, held Jan. 26 at Google’s Sunnyvale campus.
The conference strives to bring environmentally minded students together to discuss solutions to issues in their community and the actions they can take to raise environmental awareness.
The conference began with a welcome presentation by co-presidents Anya Gupta and Kung-Min Lin, who outlined ideas from the previous conferences that Los Altos implemented, such as the Tap-Out and Idle-Free projects. The Tap-Out Project aims to eliminate all single-use plastic water bottles from the cafeteria and replace them with reusable PathWater bottles. The Idle-Free Project encourages drivers to stop their cars while waiting to pick up students from the loading zone to reduce the emission of harmful gases.
PathWater CEO Gulshan Kumar later spoke about his company and inspiration. After college, he and three other colleagues created PathWater to provide affordable, reusable metal water bottles as replacements for single-use plastic bottles. After the conference, Kumar received requests from students at St. Francis and Mountain View high schools to sell PathWater bottles on their campuses.
“I think the future’s very bright if we have leaders promoting sustainability and suggesting alternatives to plastic,” Kumar said in an interview with the Town Crier. “I think (high school students) are at a unique (place) because it’s a really big issue now, but they also have more access to information than I did when I was in high school.”
Darryl Willis, vice president of the oil, gas and energy sector at Google Cloud, gave a presentation about using clean energy to provide heat, light and mobility to the world. He also introduced several projects Google’s Moonshot Factory is working on, such as Wing and Makani, explaining the positive impact he hopes they have on the world.
In addition, conference organizers incorporated small-group discussions this year, a departure from the presentation-packed events of past years. The discussion time enabled students to share their ideas, projects and experiences from their own schools and communities.
Groups of approximately 10 students were asked to discuss solutions to prompts provided at each table and create a poster to convey their ideas. They then presented their ideas to another group with a similar prompt. Ideas included replacing plastic salad containers with cardboard takeout boxes.
“The best part about the conference was that everyone was very engaged in the discussion,” Lin said. “It’s amazing to see how enthusiastic people are at the conference, and they weren’t afraid of talking to people from other schools.”
Student representatives from several high schools shared fundraising ideas or projects they implemented at their schools. For example, the Burlingame High School representative introduced the environmental film festival the school started last year, hoping to inspire students from other schools to submit their films.
“We’re talking with different clubs, well, all the clubs are talking to each other now about some future projects that they may implement,” Lin said. “They saw the (new) ideas that were presented during the conference, and I think that is the best result of the conference.”
The conference strives not only to increase awareness, but also to give guidance to other high schools trying to start their own successful Green Teams. To maintain contact throughout the year, the Los Altos High Green Team has created a Facebook group called Bay Area Students for Green High Schools.
For more information on the conference, visit studentsforgreenhighschools.weebly.com/about-us.html.
For more information on the Green Team, visit greenteam.lahs.club.