Eco-Market Day Fair Showcases Student Groups’ Activism Efforts

Community members gather outside the lower/middle school for Eco-Market Day. Photo by Olivia Brown.

The Student Action Committee (SAC) and the Environmental Task Force (ETF) co-hosted Eco-Market Day, a public event aimed at educating attendees about eco-friendly living, on April 23. According to senior and SAC chair Maddie Feldman, one of the aims of the event was to help the ETF’s bid to certify GDS as an environmentally sustainable school with Eco-Schools USA—an educational program that drives environmentally conscious action in schools across the country—by showing the school’s commitment to sustainability.

The SAC, which is broken into separate subcommittees focusing on a variety of social justice topics, set up booths, ranging from a voter registration booth to a clothing-swap booth that encouraged reusing clothes, outside the lower/middle school building. The event was open to the public, and all booths were operated by GDS student volunteers.

The Voter Mobilization’s booth and snow cone station. Photo by Olivia Brown.

Feldman described Eco-Market Day as “geared towards people of all ages to promote healthy living.”

Although this was the first-ever Eco-Market Day, Feldman said she hopes that it will become an annual tradition at GDS. She added that the name of the event was intended to be reminiscent of Country Market Day, a fair GDS hosted every fall before the pandemic. Because so many underclassmen contributed to Eco-Market Day, Feldman is optimistic that the event will continue, as there will be experienced students next year who can continue the tradition. 

Students put up posters around the school to get the word out about Eco-Market Day and generate interest in the weeks leading up to the event.

Junior Asha Adiga-Biro leads a subcommittee of the ETF on sustainability, and it was originally her idea to have an Eco-Market Day. When she first approached Assistant Principal for School Life Quinn Killy, she thought he “was going to veto the idea,” because it was such a big undertaking, but found that he “was actually so helpful.”

Killy suggested that Eco-Market Day coincide with Sports Saturday and Alumni Weekend to increase foot traffic. This tactic worked on junior Robert Anopolsky, who came to look at different booths and to watch the lacrosse game. He ended up liking the event and found the booths interesting. He added that he would recommend it to others next year.

The Affordable Housing Alliance’s booth. Photo by Reid Alexander.

Students running the clothing-swap booth collected articles of clothing as donations before the event. The clothes were laid out for anyone who wanted to trade an article of clothing or pay three dollars. “Fashion is a very wasteful industry, and it is really bad for the environment,” junior Lila Harris, a volunteer who helped run the booth, said. Harris brought up how damaging the chemicals used to make clothes are to the environment and to workers. She added that reusing clothes is important so that they do not end up in landfills.

Harris estimated that about fifty people came to the booth she was working at that day. One attendee, junior Griffin Brown, said he purchased some “booty shorts” from the booth. He said he would try to wear them at his next crew regatta, but he confessed that he might end up giving them to his sister. Brown said he liked the idea of supporting the booth because he didn’t want to contribute to the fast fashion industry.

Eco-Market Day isn’t the first large-scale project the ETF has organized; in the first semester of the school year, the ETF taught younger students about the importance of nature and engaged in other efforts to further spread awareness about its mission. Adiga-Biro said the subcommittee “made a workbook that had word searches, info about the environment, ways to combat climate change and reflection questions on how to help.”

At the end of the day, Feldman said that the goal of the event was to “get to the everyday Washingtonian and help them integrate more environmental sustainability into their everyday lives and promote healthy living as a whole.”