A new focus for Dennis Zhang ’20 and Peddie’s environmental club

Dennis Zhang ’20 has been instrumental in drumming up support for Peddie’s environmental club.

Since the start of the start of the school year, the Peddie Environmental and Sustainability Team (PEST) under Zhang’s leadership has increased from four members to more than 20 members.

“The newsletter definitely helped,” said Zhang.

Zhang credits the PEST newsletter, which is emailed to the Peddie community several times a month, with attracting student interest in the club. The newsletter is presented in an easily digestible format and features action items and an “enviro-meme.” According to Zhang, it’s been a capable vehicle to educate the Peddie community on a variety of environmental topics, from pollution to plastic bags to Styrofoam cups, and recruit new members.

All team members are active participants. “We all like writing, so the newsletter is a great way to tie in our interests. … Every single time the newsletter is sent it’s authored by a different person. And it will be that way until every member contributes.”

Peddie Environmental Club meme

Every issue of the PEST Newsletter includes an “enviro-meme.”

We speak for the trees

While student-established environmental clubs have existed at Peddie over the years, the groups haven’t always been sustainable.

Zhang and a couple of his cross-country teammates decided to revive – and reinvent – the club last year.

“Spending so much time running outside we really appreciate the environment and want to maintain it as much as we can,” said Zhang.

The club’s tagline, “We speak for the trees,” was inspired by Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax.” It was club advisor and Science Department Chair Shani Peretz’s, Ph.D. idea for the group to adopt a new name and acronym.

Most of PEST’s activities to date have centered on recycling; last year club members created specialized bins to collect paper around campus. “Recycling is one of the more manageable issues that we can tackle as a community,” said Zhang. “We use so much paper around campus. If you don’t dispose of it correctly, it’s just a waste.”

The club is currently working on a proposal to replace Styrofoam cups in the dining hall and would like to host guest speakers from the environmental sustainability industry on campus. PEST is also looking ahead to plan Earth Day activities on campus in April.

“The team has really thought hard about the best way to share their passion with the entire Peddie community,” said Peretz. “They have many great ideas for this year, and these, coupled with their enthusiasm, will continue to inspire their classmates.”

Environmental stewards

Zhang encouraged his fellow classmates to learn more about PEST. “It’s important for Peddie students to learn how to be good stewards to the environment before they head off into the real world,” he said. “If you love Mother Earth, it’s a great cause to join.”

He added, “If I hadn’t been exposed to something like this I would probably be going to college someday never wanting to partake in environmental activism. Peddie encourages you to adventure.”

Whatever your interest, there’s a place for it at Peddie. Learn more about our clubs and organizations.