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Sustainability Summit in Texas Organized by MM High School Intern Ashia

by April 9, 2024 0

The inaugural Sustainability Summit in Coppell, Texas was hosted by Coppell Eco Club, and sponsored by Meaningful Movies Project and Dallas Sierra Club. It was held in the Coppell High School Auditorium at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 28th, 2024. The summit, organized and led by Coppell High School junior and Meaningful Movies High School Intern, Ashia, aimed to galvanize community action and raise awareness about pressing environmental issues, particularly focusing on reducing plastic usage and promoting sustainability practices. 

The summit targeted three key groups: the Coppell City Council, Coppell ISD Board of Trustees, and adult community members. The event presented a call to action for each group.

The concept was conceived in April, 2023 as Ashia joined the Meaningful Movies Project. Ashia emphasizes the significance of using a film to convey the message, citing its powerful impact through real-life footage combined with environmental advocacy. With a passion for social justice advocacy cultivated through a career in policy debate and theatre, hosting film screenings combined Ashia’s interests. As a part of Coppell Eco Club, the environmental organization at Coppell High School, and the Dallas Sierra Club, a grassroots organization dedicated to furthering environmental political action, Ashia aimed to further integrate her business and organize a screening aimed at increasing environmental consciousness. Planning commenced intensively in November 2023.

The summit, catering to 150+ people, presented the Emmy award-winning film, The Story of Plastic directed by Deia Scholsberg and produced by StoryOfPlastic.org (https://www.storyofstuff.org/storyofplastic/).

The Story of Plastic is a searing exposé revealing the ugly truth behind plastic pollution and the false solution of plastic recycling. Different from every other plastic documentary you’ve seen, The Story of Plastic presents a cohesive timeline of how we got to our current global plastic pollution crisis and how the oil and gas industry has successfully manipulated the narrative around it.

The film was followed by a panel discussion with various speakers that contextualized the ideas in the film to the local community, providing solutions to plastic usage and emissions in the community. The panel included Ashia alongside Summit K-12 professional developmental strategy consultant Dr. Linda Cook, Biodiversity Education Center recreation supervisor Jonathan Ward, and another Eco Club officer Tanya Nikam.

The panel invited everyone at the summit to reduce their consumption and utilize sustainably developed and sourced items, providing a curated list of items utilized every day that can be replaced with sustainable alternatives. The list can be found here (https://www.bulbapp.com/u/shopping-sustainably).

The panel also touched upon the important topic of herd mentality and environmental efficacy. Ashia and Nikam discuss how we are taught to perform an act of kindness to three people each day. They tell us that people will want to pass that along to three other people, and those people will then pass it along, such that at the end: everyone will have experienced kindness. This concept can be applied to sustainability as well. The panel challenged everyone to take part in eco-conscious actions publicly, such that some people may see you using compostable plates or taking your plastic bags back to the grocery store to reuse on your next trip and follow your example. The panel emphasized that one person taking an action can start a ripple effect, showcasing the importance of each individual person. 

Ending on this important note, Ashia continued the event by presenting two projects she spearheaded. Ashisa presents the Cafeteria Plastic Reduction Project, advocating for a shift to stainless steel from plasticware within the cafeteria. She conducted research providing estimates of over 2.6 million pieces of plastic used in the Coppell High School cafeteria every year. She advocates for saving this plastic, backing her solution financially, claiming that the transition would save the school over $65000.

Afterwards, Ashia presented an application, CleanSweep: Trash Collection Optimization, that she developed to optimize trash collection, reducing gas emissions by over 9500 gallons of fuel for one truck per year. She worked on the application since last December. It empowers normal trash pickup drivers to mark locations requiring the services of specialized trucks, such as bulk waste and green waste. With the markers for these locations, the application provides the specialized trash collection operators with a fuel-efficient pathway to minimize aimless wandering. She claims that utilizing the application would save the city of Coppell approximately 181,792 pounds of CO2 per truck per year.

Ashia encourages the community present to support these initiatives and hopes to further these initiatives.

The event concluded with the club providing attendees with a meal including compostable utensils, plates and reusable water bottles.

Ashia and the Coppell Eco Club aimed to open discourse and communication over these important topics. They wish to continue these discussions and continue the summit at a larger scale in the upcoming fall.

 

Written by Meaningful Movies High School Intern Ashia.

 

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