PAA Students Go Green With Christian Ethics

April 01, 2008 | Liesl Vistaunet

Portland Adventist Academy seniors are leaving behind a legacy of creation care for their school.

Les Zollbrecht, PAA philosophy and ethics teacher, helps students think about Christian ethics in the world. Students chose to discuss issues from a wide range of global concerns, including natural disasters, poverty, hunger, slavery, the environment and more.

The environment was a high concern to the class. "As a Christian I'm supposed to care about God's creation," says senior Ashley Dahl. Classmate Erica Wilson adds, "When God created the earth he put us in charge of it and told us to replenish it."

Feeling called to this command, the students conducted a waste audit of the school. They collected and sorted trash by category: plastic, food, paper and several others. Then they weighed and recorded.

"I was surprised at how much food we waste," says Wilson. The records show almost 50 pounds of edible food was thrown away each day. The other concern was paper. "Instead of throwing paper in the trash, it should be put into a recycle box," says Wilson.

After the dirty work, Wilson, Dahl and another classmate organized efforts to advertise the findings and teach the student body simple ways to reduce waste. Another group organized lunch trades to encourage students to give away their unwanted food, while yet another team placed convenient recycle bins throughout the school.

The group projects brought awareness and action to PAA and even had an impact in homes. "At home we started cutting back on using the dishwasher," says Wilson.

Zollbrecht says he was encouraged not only by the class's hard work, but by what many of the students expressed in their class journals. "It's inspiring to see these kids own the issue because they want to be good stewards of what God has given us."