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Zero Waste committee decks the halls with green at EcoFest

Katherine+Phelps+%E2%80%9925+volunteers+for+Service+League+of+Girls+%28SLOGS%29+at+the+festival%2C+aiding+with+a+variety+of+crafts.+
Audrey Curtis ’25
Katherine Phelps ’25 volunteers for Service League of Girls (SLOGS) at the festival, aiding with a variety of crafts.

During the beloved holiday season, the amount of waste created increases between 25% and 43% according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. Between the gifts, cards, decorations, food and parties, the average American produces 8.75 more pounds each week. 

Zeroing in on this common complaint about the holiday season, the Zero Waste committee set out on Saturday, Nov 11, to reduce the waste from the holidays by providing Westport shoppers with eco-friendly gift options. 

The holidays can be super wasteful. People are typically buying things that are not environmentally friendly.

— Kayla Iannetta

Each Westport public school has its sustainability group. Staples’s own Zero Waste Committee is managed by Co-Chairs Kayla Ianetta and Jennifer Cirino. This committee considers itself to be more than a club and runs numerous events such as EcoFest, formally called the Holiday Green Festival.

“We founded [a] compost initiative at Staples,” President of ZWC Isabel Tobin ’24 said, “and ended up reducing the school food waste by 30%.” 

Isabel Tobin ’24, president of the Zero Waste Committee (ZWC), sells handmade cards for shoppers to raise money for the club’s future initiatives. (Photo by Audrey Curtis ’25)

In addition, the club also started a thrift store, offering a way to step away from fast fashion. This thrift made its appearance at Saturday’s event, along with numerous other pop-ups. Each pop-up contained sustainable gifts such as sea cards, aromatherapy, handmade crafts and anything promoting sustainability.

“We brought vendors from all over Connecticut to the cafeteria,” Tobin said. 

These local shops provide an alternate option to the typical gifting tactics. 

Crafter Susan Freedgood, resident of New Canaan, was a featured vendor at the festival. She creates colorful fish out-of-stockade fencing or broken fences. To do this, she cuts the wood and then paints them to hang outside. (Photo by Audrey Curtis ’25)

“The holidays can be super wasteful,” Iannetta said. “People are typically buying things that are not environmentally friendly.”

Instead, through this event, there is an opportunity for shoppers to do just the opposite of that. By keeping it holiday-themed, many are excited to take part in spreading holiday cheer, without spreading garbage throughout the ecosystem. 

If the fair becomes as large as the club hopes, they will be able to use the funds for a variety of improvements to Staples. 

“We’d like to change some things at the school,” Cirino said, “such as more water filling stations, TerraCycle boxes for more in-depth recycling and reducing single-use plastic in the cafeteria, among other initiatives.”

Members of the key club sold metal straws as they are better for the environment, along with reusable traveling mugs and water bottles. (Photo by Audrey Curtis ’25)

‘Tis the season to give back; despite this being the festival’s second year, it is set to endure holidays to come.

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Audrey Curtis ’25, Web Photostory Editor
Web Photostory Editor Audrey Curtis ’25 is prone to adventures. This summer, she spontaneously went to Italy for the day while on a program in France. “We randomly decided to go to Italy for two hours,” Curtis said. “Now I can say that I’ve been to Italy.” Her passions, like that of adventure, are what led Curtis to join Inklings. She appreciates the ability to express her opinions on compelling topics.  “If there’s anything that I feel passionate about, I have the power to speak about it,” Curtis said. “And because of that, I feel like my voice is heard.”

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