While they are officially called the ‘Green Team,’ this Banff Community High School-based environmental advocacy group is also a dream team. Comprised of students, the Green Team has been creating solutions for better local environmental practices since 2003, when a group of students began to produce and test biodiesel in their science class. With the guidance of their science teacher Michelle Macdonell, the students were convinced biodiesel fuel was more environmentally friendly and presented their findings to the Canadian Rockies Public School board. From there, all CRPS buses switched to biodiesel fuel and were even retrofitted with catalytic converters to further reduce emissions. From this science class project turned real-life solution, the Green Team was established in 2005.
Ten years later, more than 70 students have volunteered with the Green Team alongside their sponsor Maya Capel on several projects: “We raise awareness to help to inspire the community to be more environmentally conscious through education, example, and use,” Capel says.
With the help of community partners like Parks Canada, Canada Post, the Town of Banff and businesses like the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, the 2014 Alberta Winter Games and Bullfrog Power, the Green Team is leading the way.
For example, the group was instrumental in installing a paper-recycling depot outside of the post office, creating a convenient place for Banffites to recycle. The Green Team also spearheaded a rain barrel initiative whereby donated barrels were refitted into rain barrels to collect rainwater for watering use. They’ve also fundraised to have two water dispensers on campus, volunteered at toxic waste round ups, and knocked door-to-door to give residents compostable bags.
And most recently, in January 2014, the Green Team celebrated the installation of 36 solar panels on the roof of the high school.
But what has some Green Team alumni most excited is that the legacy lives on.
“It’s just incredible to see how much its grown and that students are so interested,” Lara Buchmann-Duck, a Green Team student from 2009, says.
Adding that even the easy wins are just as important as bigger picture projects when it comes to encouraging fellow high school peers to support the cause (for example, turning off lights and recycling).
“Every little bit counts. The small things do make a difference.”