SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — “This is our home. Save the planet!”
That was the chant from dozens of Savannah Arts Academy students Thursday morning as they walked out of the school building to take a stand against climate change.
The protest, organized by Savannah Arts Academy junior Abigail Landers, was inspired by outspoken Swedish teenage environmental activist, Greta Thunberg.
“She inspired me mostly because I saw the global walkout all across the world, full of high school students,” Landers said.
“I wanted my school to be a part of that.”
Students gathered shortly after 10:30 a.m. in the school’s courtyard off of Washington Avenue. Some held up climate change-related posters, like the pop culture-influenced sign that read, “This is not what I meant by ‘Hot Girl Summer.’”
Others listened intently to their student leader, Landers, as she addressed in her speech to the crowd how crucial it is for political leaders to take action.
The time, Landers said, is now.
“Grown adults are looking toward children for the solution,” she said to her fellow students through a megaphone.
“Grown adults are depending on the youth when they should be sticking up for us,” she continued. “They claim that they care about their children, yet they are not helping our future for us to live.”
Landers added that she doesn’t want representatives in Congress and the government to merely listen to the youth and say that they understand.
“I don’t want them to hope for a change,” Landers said, echoing a recent speech from Thunberg.
“I want them to panic because this is a crisis that needs to be solved now,” Landers said as the crowd erupted in cheers.
She emphasized in her speech that “your vote is with your money,” urging people to support the purchase of naturally made items and stop buying chemicals.
“What you buy with your money largely affects what goes into our economy, because if natural waste solutions are being purchased more than chemicals, then obviously, the suppliers will see that, and they won’t sell as much,” Landers said in a post-rally interview.
One of the key ways she says she hopes to influence change in her own school starts with waste produced from school lunches.
“My main thing is to get reusable plates, bowls and silverware, so we don’t have to be [producing] so much waste,” she said.
Landers asked her school’s cafeteria workers how many students purchase lunch daily on average, to get an idea of how much trash is thrown away.
“They said about 150 students a day between all lunches, and over the course of an entire school year, that’s over 10,000 pieces of plastic and waste that is going into our ecosystem,” Landers said.
For those that want to assist in making a difference in the climate change movement, she says that contacting representatives and congress members is a good start.
“Ask them to make a change,” Landers said. “It won’t be easy, they might ignore you at first, but the only way change is going to happen is if we keep pushing for it.”