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St. Mark's Hosts Successful Sustainability Conference
St. Mark's Hosts Successful Sustainability Conference

On Sunday, April 7, the St. Mark's Students for Sustainability organization hosted the 2019 Independent School Sustainability Coalition (ISSC) Conference on campus. The St. Mark's group collaborated with students from Milton Academy and elsewhere.

The ISSC is a network of independent schools dedicated to promoting sustainability. Founded by Milton Academy in 2016, the ISSC aims to engage all students attending independent schools in a culture of sustainability. Many schools are uniting to achieve sustainable goals, targeting everything from food wastage on campus to improved awareness within the student body.

Students from several independent schools attended the conference, which featured Nathalia JMag as the keynote speaker.

Nathalia JMag is a Colombian-American contemporary fashion designer who believes in sustainable and ethical approaches to fashion. She is passionate about conserving the environment and protecting animals and people. She studied fashion design at Framingham State University, graduating in 2016, and has been a professional fashion designer since then. She has participated in many fashion shows including Helsinki Fashion week which was named as the first sustainable fashion week by Vogue. Her presentation at the ISSC Conference was followed by a question-and-answer session.

The Conference also featured small group collaborative workshops, and each participating school presented short presentations about sustainability projects undertaken during this past year.

For example, this past October, Emma Willard School, St. Mark's School, and Milton Academy participated in Project Green Challenge (often abbreviated as PGC). PGC is an annual month-long competition run by Turning Green, a student-run global NGO, and is open to all students and faculty members in high schools and colleges around the world.

Every ISSC school that participated in PGC had one to three representatives that helped get the word out on their campuses. In September, representatives made announcements, sent emails, and hosted sign-up events to encourage student participation. St. Mark's even created a Snapchat platform to share challenges and connect with students.

Approximately 150 students became involved in PGC this year through the ISSC. During the month of October, schools worked to remind students and faculty to be actively conscious of the environment. St. Mark's posted the PGC challenges on their social media platforms and promoted this work at school meetings. Lindsay Davis '21, one of the St. Mark's PGC representatives, said that "this opportunity engaged the student body and sparked interest in environmentalism."

Project Green Challenge was an engaging event that inspired students and faculty alike to change their habits for the better. Although it only lasted for a month, Lindsay hopes to "create more ways for students to get involved in and learn more about sustainability" in the future.