How Mater Dei has “Gone Green”


With the consequences of pollution and climate change becoming increasingly clear, many schools are working to integrate environmental consciousness into daily school life. Mater Dei and the ASB team have also strived to encourage students, faculty, and staff to protect the environment and make choices that help in this effort.

In line with this mission, Mater Dei has recently instituted a Go-Green Commission. Through this ASB initiative, students and faculty alike are encouraged to do their part to make the campus a better, more environmentally-conscious place.

Among other programs, the commission aims to accomplish this mission through recycling, cleaning up after students at lunch, organizing and sorting trash, and promoting the environment through segments on Monarch Television.

Junior and member of the commission, Joaquin Iglesias, explains how even the smallest acts can make such a big difference.

“Just doing simple things like throwing away plastic bottles into the recycling bin or using iPads instead of paper [is important] because the environment is important,” Iglesias said.

Iglesias also explains the future of the commission and why it continues to be so necessary.

“With two thousand students, [the school] creates a lot of waste and that’s evident when we’re walking around,” Iglesias said. “For the future, we will just continue to do what we’re doing and maybe implement new ways to promote recycling and the environment.”

Iglesias maintains the simplicity of the Go-Green program and how everyone can get involved in its mission.

“I think it’s important for the school because we need to bring awareness to the environment and it’s really simple to do,” Iglesias said. “To me, Go-Green just means doing your part.”

The Go-Green program has been a part of Mater Dei since the early 2000s and since, headed by ASB commissioners of all grade levels, along with a faculty moderator.

Religious studies teacher Ben De Los Reyes has been the commission’s moderator since 2011 and acknowledges the difficulties of running the recycling program.

“Our biggest difficulty is dealing with so many plastic water bottles,” De Los Reyes said. “Go-Green does mean recycling, but we can do better.”

De Los Reyes suggests ways in which the students and faculty of Mater Dei can help in this effort and how the Go-Green commission can inspire others to get involved.

“The next step is to reduce the need for recycling,” De Los Reyes said. “We’re already seeing the popularity of refillable bottles at school and refilling stations can be found around campus. This is a great development, but we still face the challenge of too many single use plastic bottles. To raise awareness of this problem, I hope to have a large art project at school, something that gets people talking.”

De Los Reyes also suggests some other ways to reduce our carbon footprint and have a more positive impact on the environment.

“Another alternative to plastic is to have vending machines with water in aluminum cans,” De Los Reyes said. “Aluminum is much easier to recycle, and therefore better for the environment. Also, our use of electricity has a big impact. This means turning off A/C and lights when rooms are empty, and keeping doors closed when the A/C is running.”

Ultimately, the Go-Green commission has worked hard over the past couple of decades to make a positive impact on the Mater Dei community and the environment as a whole. Their mission has continued to drive change in our school and encourages students, faculty, and staff alike to do their part and find ways to “go green” in their daily lives. De Los Reyes, ASB leaders, and the Go-Green commission as a whole assert that even the smallest actions can have the greatest impact.

“When we all work together to make small changes, it adds up and makes a big difference,” De Los Reyes said. “I feel proud of the increased awareness on Campus. Teachers and students approach me with their ideas to improve MD’s impact on the environment and that means that they care about the planet and they feel a responsibility to move things in the right direction. They are inspired by the good work of the Go-Green commissioners. We’re truly a school that has Gone Green.”