Catherine Armenta and Noah Nafarrete
Green team builds living walls on campus
Living walls were built in the 400s wing at Bonita Vista High School on Nov. 8. This was done by the Green Team in an effort to promote smarter environmental choices by showcasing the beauty behind plants and recycling materials.
The Green Team is a student-run club, headed by juniors and co-presidents Lillian Landre and Ivana Bobadilla. The Green Team aims to spread environmental awareness, working in the school’s butterfly garden and participating in events such as “I Love a Clean San Diego” and various beach clean-ups. These living walls are their first large-scale project at BVH.
The living walls are built using 100 percent recycled materials, such as recycled wood pallets, old paint and succulents that were grown in the members’ gardens.
“It’s important to reuse things. The pallets that we got were recycled and we’re using food containers to plant things in. There’s already enough trash being produced, so recycling is the best option,” Landre said.
Recycling is a sustainable practice, which is why the Green Team put it into play in the construction of the living walls.
“Being an environmentally-conscious club, we used recycled materials including the crates which came from the cafeteria and even old plastic containers to place the succulents in,” Bobadilla said.
Advisor Jennifer Ekstein teaches Accelerated Biology, IB Environmental Systems and Societies SL and AP Environmental Science. In every one of her classes, she stresses that it is a priority to keep the environment clean. She states that in light of this sentiment, the idea of placing living walls throughout the school is a very good example of efforts geared towards sustainability.
“In my classes, we’re learning about deforestation and habitat destruction. So, this is a way we can transform sustainable practices from teaching it to actually putting it into play outside of the classroom,” Ekstein said.
Not only are living walls teaching students to become more environmentally-aware, but they are also bringing out creativity in the students to make the campus look nicer overall.
“[The students] are also designing, there’s the design aspect of how to actually attach these plants and it’s creative,” Ekstein said.
The living walls follow a colorful theme, aimed to add a bright touch to the campus. The Green Team mentioned that succulents were the ideal plant because they require little maintenance and they follow the theme nicely, all while providing the environmental benefits that plants present.
“I think when people are walking around, they would like to look at them because they’re really cute. We used succulents because they don’t require a lot of water or maintenance and they’re also really trendy,” Landre said.
In terms of benefits, the succulents help to filter the air and promote better air quality.
“The environment is what has provided us with what’s essential for life: Water and shelter. This is why it’s imperative that we all do what we can to help conserve it,” Bobadilla said.
The Green Team also has future goals in mind. They eventually want to set up their living walls throughout the school. Aside from living walls, Green Team is considering implementing other sustainable practices on campus such as adding compost bins.
“Lillian thought about creating compost bins schoolwide so that we can dispose of things like apple cores, banana peels and such in a way that can benefit the environment,” Bobadilla said.
The Green Team aims to build long-lasting environmental habits. They mention that promoting sustainability to other students through environmental projects on campus will help encourage this message.
“You want to pass down these sustainability practices down from your seniors to your freshman, and just keep it going,” Ekstein said.
The Green Team believes that through building living walls, they will have a lasting environmental impact of the school.
“These will forever be here as long as we are able to maintain them. It’s like these students are leaving a legacy of sustainability in their high school, and I should say that these living walls do a tremendous amount of ecological services for our environment,” Ekstein said.