Virtual learning is better for the environment

Julia Weinrod

Wilson has converted to hybrid learning, and while the students might not be better off, the environment certainly is. With less trash and more Teams, Wilson’s environmental footprint has decreased. Distance learning is better for the environment, and we should pay attention so we can do better when we go back in person.

For one, with students and teachers no longer travelling to school, the amount of fuel used has decreased. Some teachers used to come from far-out Maryland and Virginia, driving long distances each way. Some students drove, whether by themselves, with friends, or with parents. Personally, I used to drive to school at least once a week. Thinking of all those cars that have been off the road for the last year before and after school makes me feel better about Wilson’s environmental impact.

Another way that online school benefits the planet is the amount of materials saved. Almost all assignments now done online would previously have been completed on a piece of paper. I used to cringe seeing teachers print hundreds of copies of homework. These same teachers now just post work virtually, saving water, paper, and time. We should definitely be able to type all assignments going forwards. I also think virtual worksheets are more convenient for students to do and for teachers to grade.

Back when we attended school in the building, Wilson had a waste problem. The old hot lunches from the cafeteria included disposable trays, napkins, and silverware. I’m guilty of throwing out the fruits the lunch ladies forced us to take. Now students use their own dishes and are less likely to throw out unfinished food. I’m glad the amount of litter Wilson students created in Tenleytown has decreased as well. It’s kind of embarrassing how much Panera and Chick-fil-A packaging would be left on Wisconsin Avenue after school each day.

Let’s not forget that all these changes save the community lots of money. Making these changes permanent would leave more room in the Wilson budget for purchases that truly help students, whether they’re at home or in school. This is important to me because I feel guilty when teachers say they bought materials out of pocket or when there aren’t enough supplies for everyone.

School at home has already proven that increasing the use of technology can benefit teachers and students. What we must also take away from it is that changes can easily be made to benefit the Earth. In the future, students should be encouraged to complete assignments digitally, instead of being prohibited from typing essays and digitally producing projects. Wilson Student Government and faculty should work together to create incentives for more students and teachers to use public transportation when we’re all safely back in school, as well as an initiative to use reusable dishes in the cafeteria.

These changes might seem small, but they all add up to being a more environmentally-friendly school. That’s something we can all get behind, and it’s already happening right now. Although it might seem like the world has stopped and every day is the same, there still is so much progress to be made in order to literally make the world a better place. The Earth is not waiting for the pandemic to end for us to save it.