Environmental activist group combats climate change at first-ever Sustainability Fair


Student Climate Emergency Coalition founder Sonya Ribner ’19 interacts with visitors at the first-ever Sustainability Fair in Rancho Park. Credit: Saba Nia/Chronicle

Hannah Han

Students of the Student Climate Emergency Coalition partnered with environmentally-friendly small businesses and vendors to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of climate change at their first-ever Sustainability Fair in Rancho Park on April 28.

The SCEC, which Sonya Ribner ’19 founded this year, is an environmental activist group comprised of high schoolers from across Los Angeles.  SCEC members aim to inform their local communities about the devastating impacts of global climate change, Ribner said.  

At the Sustainability Fair, the SCEC hosted various non-profits to promote eco-friendly materials and foods, with the goal of preventing the destruction of marine life and decreasing the emission of greenhouse gases, Ribner said.

“We offered sustainable cutlery and metal straws just so that people could have the opportunity to see how they can help combat the effects of climate change using things that are available to them at home,” Ribner said. “Plastic straws come out of the ocean as microplastic beads that affect turtles and dolphins, and with carbon emissions that go into producing cutlery and bracelets, you’re directly coming into contact with greenhouse gases.”

Environmental Club leader and SCEC member Anja Clark ’19 helped organize the fair by contacting local restaurants, animal wildlife centers and start-up businesses that sold reusable products to the Los Angeles community.

“We wanted to represent loads of small businesses and charities committed to sustainably sourcing their materials and products,” Clark said. “For instance, a girl from my rock climbing team has a small business where she sells blankets that are hand-woven out of recycled T-shirts, and she was there.”

In addition, local student bands, such as Deli Hours and The Jack Riley Experience, played music and entertained guests during the event.

Ribner said that, by hosting the Sustainability Fair, she hoped to encourage individuals within the Los Angeles area to take direct action to reverse the effects of climate change.

“Through my internship at City Hall over the summer, I realized that it’s so impactful if you can organize a few people and get a few people to make a big change,” Ribner said. “Inspired by that, I wanted to bring together high school students because we have a lot of power to make the changes that we want in the world. It’s our generation that’s going to be the most affected by climate change, so if we can do something about it, we have to.”