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Introducing XERO Club

April 13, 2022

Xavier’s XERO Club poses outside for their club picture. XERO Club is composed of students from all grade levels who are passionate about learning about environmental problems and implementing sustainable solutions.

Rylie Wood/Xavierian

Xavier’s XERO Club poses outside for their club picture. XERO Club is composed of students from all grade levels who are passionate about learning about environmental problems and implementing sustainable solutions.

In his 1971 book, “The Lorax,” Theodor Seuss Giesel, most prominently known as Dr. Seuss stated,“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Sagaciously written in a time when environmentalism was on the rise, Dr. Seuss foretold the efforts and the motto of Xavier College Preparatory’s Xavier Environmental Response Organization (XERO) Club.

XERO Club has been an essential part of Xavier beginning from the 1980s. Current moderator Catherine Robbins became involved in XERO Club during her first year at Xavier, in 2012. Since then, not much has changed so as not to deviate from the club’s original foundation.

Robbins said, “The essential goal has always been the same, but the activities and the way we go about some of those pursuits have changed over the years.”

President of XERO Club, Gema Sanchez Gamez ’22, mentioned that a most recent purpose of the club is to “dial down the panic of climate change and of feeling like we’re not doing enough.” XERO Club strives to create community safe spaces where any person can talk about the struggles or challenges of being environmentally-friendly. 

The club not only discusses problems and solutions in the big-picture setting of the world, but also within school and everyday life, where small, “trivial” actions account to great measures. 

But what exactly are those problems discussed? There is a variety to select from: burning fossil fuels, *fast fashion, unsustainable consumer culture, overfishing, deforestation, contamination and food waste are some of the most recognized problems. 

However, the most critical and impactful problem is climate change because it does not result in solely one problem, according to AP Environmental Science teacher Sarah Schimp.“Global warming is one of the effects of climate change, but there are many effects.”

As a result of climate change, certain ecosystems become more vulnerable to challenges such as sea-level rise, droughts and floods. This leads to the suffering of existing forms of life due also to acute climates and unavailable or polluted life sources. Consequently, displacement becomes widespread as a search for a stable and secure safe haven most often proves futile as transportation and legislation make it difficult for certain groups to enter safer regions.

With the aforementioned problems and the increased imploring of solutions, the stress of the gravity and enormity of the world can reasonably be expected to take a toll on some. After all, how much of a difference can one person or organization truly make for the benefit of the environment? Robbins said, “XERO Club firmly believes that even the smallest awareness or action can bring more light and aid to the world’s environmental need.”

Some of the “small” actions that the club took before Covid-19 were collecting the recycling bins around campus for service hours and selling reusable materials, such as straws, for $1.00. Prior to selling straws, XERO Club sold daisies; however, realizing that selling flowers that only lasted one day was unsustainable, the club switched its inventory to sell reusable items like straws. The profits made from the sales were placed back into the XERO Club account to replace the money taken out to purchase materials to sell.

Gamez says, “It’s important to care about the environment because even though so many of us at Xavier have the resources to live in places that aren’t affected by these things, the people who are affected – people who live close to the equator, farmers, people who don’t have resources to move –  need to be protected.”

Currently, XERO Club participates in more hands-on and informative activities. Recently, the club talked about how to store food properly. Although it may not sound like an enormous difference, the science behind it is beyond logical. “We throw away so much food constantly and there is so much energy that goes into creating that food. It’s a waste to throw it away,” said Gamez. 

Throughout the year, XERO Club has also planted flowers, refurbished benches that were made from Xavier’s old trees, painted egg cartons, tested Xavier’s air quality and made natural cleaners. Gamez said, “XERO Club focuses on educating people, but also making it fun.” 

Sanchez concluded, “What I want people to take away from the club is a community more than anything. When we feel guilty about certain things or maybe not being as sustainable as we should be we hide that and we don’t share it with people. I want people to take away that being sustainable can be fun and easy and it doesn’t always have to be expensive. The best way to find those resources is being in a community and surrounding yourself with people who feel the same way.”

*Fast fashion is the term used to describe apparel companies that sell cheap garments while underpaying their workers and leaving them in horrible conditions. Additionally, the dyes that fast fashion companies use are very contaminating and, yet, they are thrown in water sources.

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