“Help further a global action agenda” might seem like a daunting assignment for a 6th grader. But CEL teachers Julie Knutson and Ed Glassman ’03 are teaching students to think big for their Social Impact class, and a recent visit to the Clothes Closet on campus helped students more deeply understand how they might do that.
The students are learning about the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and exploring activities on and around campus that illuminate those goals. “The students seek out spaces at SCH where the SDGs are being embodied and look for opportunities within our community to do more to further this global action agenda,” says Knutson.
The Clothes Closet, which sells everything from used uniforms to snow boots, is a prime example of one of those spaces. Late last week, students gathered near the store’s front desk and beside racks of winter coats and women’s shoes as Ellen Wilson, Clothes Closet coordinator, spoke about how the majority of textiles end up in landfills and microfibers from polyester clothing are polluting the oceans. She shared facts about how fashion impacts the planet and touched on at least four specific SDGs, including climate action, responsible consumption and production, life below water, and life on land.
“A lot of us have clothes we don’t need or use. And a lot of our clothes get thrown out,” she said. “The fashion industry produces 10 percent of humanity’s carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams.”
She offered some solutions, such as buying used and washing gently worn clothing less frequently. And the visit culminated in a hunt for (and presentation of!) creative Halloween costumes, testing students’ resourcefulness and problem-solving skills. Bonus points for costumes free of dye, the world’s second-largest polluter of water!