Max Stahl, Cub Writer
The environment has been deteriorating for decades. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), greenhouse gas emissions have steadily increased since 1990, the sea level has risen five to six inches in the past century, and global average temperatures are rising. Among the many who try to counteract these environmental maladies is English teacher Dr. Steven Rubenstein.
Rubenstein, who has taught at Beverly since 2003, began several years ago to conduct his daily activities more in conjunction with eco-friendly standards. To help the environment, he bikes to work, recycles frequently, uses biodegradable paper cups in his classroom, drives a Prius and works to reduce the school’s paper consumption, among other things. Although he does not consider this to be a green lifestyle, he acknowledges that he is environmentally conscious and wishes that more people would be. Being a teacher, he has influence on hundreds of young minds and can therefore impact how his students treat the earth.
“More and more I’ve been encouraging students to put their money where their mouths are and to buy products that are good for the environment and not products that are wasteful and bad for the environment,” Rubenstein said.
He does not just influence students, though. Rubenstein also serves as a sort of technology coach for other teachers at the school, a position that allows him to further reduce the school’s carbon footprint.
“It’s a special assignment where I work with teachers on technology,” Rubenstein explained. “I encourage teachers to use less and less paper, and teach them how to reduce their paper consumption by using the copiers to scan rather than to print. I really have it as a goal in the coming years to even more significantly reduce our paper consumption.”
To reduce pollution, Rubenstein also rides his bike to work, although he claims that, because his trip is short and because he drives a hybrid, he likely does not save much gas. However, the EPA says that leaving one’s car at home just two days a week saves an average of 1,600 pounds of greenhouse gases per year.
Rubenstein began riding his bike to school about a year ago.
“Last summer my family gave me a bicycle as a birthday present, and they expected I would bike around the neighborhood on the weekends, and they were pretty horrified when they found out I was using it as transportation,” he recounted.
Rubenstein understands that there are risks involved in biking to school, but he would rather take those risks than pollute. Unlike many Americans, he is not ignorant of his effect on the environment.
“I feel like we have such a privileged lifestyle that we probably see far less on our consumption than other people around the globe, but our way of life really means that someone across the planet suffers in some way,” Rubenstein explained.
Rubenstein has identified several ways students can help mitigate these issues.
“Students could walk and bike more. I see far too many kids coming in cars. I think that’s one of the big things, and also I guess to cut down on plastic bottles and things like that, to bring a water bottle and reusable containers for lunches and snacks and things like that,” Rubenstein advised.
For more environmental tips, visit the Environmental Protection Agency‘s website.