Taking Action on the Climate Crisis

Poly recognizes that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. At Poly, we are reducing our climate impacts through a multi-faceted approach. Passionate students are taking charge and advocating for commitments to renewable energy as well as implementing initiatives that reduce greenhouse gasses through food waste diversion. As an institution, we are assessing our carbon contributions and mapping out a path to move toward carbon neutrality. Educating our students about climate change is also a priority for Poly, as well as providing ways for students and employees to positively impact the climate crisis every school day.

The Climate Emergency

The climate crisis is arguably the greatest threat facing humanity. Warmer temperatures over time are already causing record heat waves, wildfires, sea level rise and more powerful storms with devastating destruction. The risks posed by climate change are life threatening to all living beings on Earth. This record rise in temperatures is human-caused and stems primarily from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation. The gasses emitted by these activities trap heat in our atmosphere and are called greenhouse gasses. Globally, the greatest concentration of greenhouse gasses come from carbon dioxide (76%) and methane (16%)[1]. Without urgent action to reduce greenhouse gasses, this dire situation will only get worse.

[1] https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data

Student Passion into Action: Becoming Change Makers

Poly students are at the heart of the school’s climate action initiatives. Climate change tops the lists of global worries for young people today and taking action to mitigate global warming is a priority for many of our student sustainability clubs. Students are channeling their passion into action and effecting change on campus.

An Upper School club that advocated for a renewable energy pledge from the school led Poly to conduct a campus energy assessment to help map out a path to carbon neutrality. Another Upper School club studied how Poly manages the organics generated from campus activities and proposed a way to reduce greenhouse gasses through on-site composting. Poly now has four aerated-static-pile composting bins in one of the school’s gardens.

A Middle School Sustainability club created and piloted waste sorting stations to divert food waste and reduce methane emissions. The clubs’ combined efforts led to the implementation of effective waste sorting systems campus-wide, and during the 2021–2022 school year students have composted more than five tons of food waste and landscaping trimmings in our on-site bins. Finished compost is added to our gardens’ raised beds and is also used to fertilize campus landscaping, closing the loop on Poly’s organic waste.
Poly students’ passion to make a positive impact on climate change has helped them to develop leadership skills, become active in civic issues and to work collaboratively both within and outside of Poly.

How Students Are Taking Action

Developing as Leaders

  • Presenting climate action proposals to school leaders
  • Leading sustainability assemblies
  • Teaching and training our youngest students about sustainable practices
  • Educating peers about sustainability issues through publishing newsletters, creating videos and speaking at class gatherings
  • Researching complex problems and seeking participation from all stakeholders to brainstorm solutions
  • Delivering persuasive speeches on actions students want the school to take to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions

Becoming Civic Activists 

  • Researching city approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Interviewing city leaders to understand decisions and propose more sustainable alternatives
  • Attending City Council and Committee meetings, learning how city government functions
  • Speaking at City Council meetings to advocate for clean energy policy
  • Writing public comments for City Council agenda items that address climate action

Seeking Collaboration 

Poly students have met with nearby educational institutions to
  • Share best practices
  • Explore possible collaboration on organic waste reduction
Students have worked closely with the Operations team members and leaders to help create effective sustainability processes

Climate Action FAQs

List of 3 frequently asked questions.

  • What happens to the compost that Poly creates?

    The compost is used as a soil amendment for raised beds in the Lower School and Middle School gardens and also used as a natural fertilizer to mulch our campus landscaping.
  • Does Poly recycle?

    Yes. Poly recycles, but recycling takes place at Athens Services Material Recovery Facility (MRF). All trash and recycling are taken together to the MRF and once there, glass bottles, aluminum cans, #1 and #2 plastics, and uncontaminated cardboard and paper are recovered and recycled.
  • What happens to food waste and landscaping waste that we can’t compost on-site?

    All landscaping trimmings as well as food waste collected from our food service provider and from our thirteen campus sorting stations is composted at American Organics, a commercial facility in Victorville, CA when Poly doesn’t have capacity to compost on-site.

Meet the Team

List of 3 members.

  • Photo of Laura Fleming

    Laura Fleming 

    Manager of Environmental Sustainability
  • Photo of David Yamaoka

    Dave Yamaoka 

    Manager of Safety and Sustainability
  • Photo of Keith Huyssoon

    Keith Huyssoon 

    Chief Financial Officer