“Don’t command, lead by example.” – Katie Melind

Seniors Katie Melind and Niels Caspersen strive to do just that. As co-presidents of Brebeuf Jesuit’s Conservation Club, they are working to influence change on campus and among their fellow students with hope that their efforts will ripple, encouraging a greater impact in Indianapolis, the Midwest, and beyond. Katie said, “Leaders should be less authoritarian and more intuitive. Making Conservation Club into a popular club was all thanks to previous leaders for making green activism a trend. I am working hard to encourage my friends and peers to get involved in the club or just in making eco-conscious changes to their lives.” Following their passion for conservation and the hope of a greener world, Katie and Niels, along with their fellow club members, encourage a move toward zero-waste, both at school through large-scale recycling efforts, and in their lives at home.

“I have always found our mistreatment of the Earth as a whole to be humanity’s greatest blunder, and I wanted to learn more about how I personally could help correct that.” – Niels Caspersen

Over the summer of 2018, Brebeuf Librarian Suzanne Russel approached Niels and Katie with a new conservation project. If they could collect 250 lbs (yes, POUNDS) of bottle caps, a local company would melt the caps into a bench. Following the passing of Brebeuf’s longtime and beloved Jesuit, Padre, it seemed fitting to dedicate the bench in his memory. With their love for Padre and passion for conservation, Katie and Niels set out to inspire the school to help meet the project’s goal. Just over halfway through the school year, thousands of bottle caps have already been collected. While there is still a ways to go, both Katie and Niels believe they will reach their goal in time by the end of this school year.

More than just a beautiful tribute to Padre’s memory, these co-presidents believe the project can create a culture of change among the students at Brebeuf.

“More than anything, I hope the project demonstrates to my peers that small actions and slight shifts in one’s mindset can have a dramatic impact when compounded. Even on a small enough scale as our own school, the simple action of recycling your bottle cap, rather than throwing it away, will create something tangible, which I hope will be a message to my classmates that their actions do in fact make a difference.” – Niels Caspersen

“I hope it will make [students] more conscious about the waste they produce. Even having collected way fewer than 250 lbs of caps so far, we are making progress. Imagining the amount of plastic bottles and containers attached to each of the caps makes me shudder, as a hater of plastic bottles. I hope that as the magnitude of caps grows, students are able to visualize how great an impact they have on the environment. If we can produce this much garbage, imagine how much Indianapolis produces, then how much Indiana produces… the Midwest… and further on.” – Katie Melind

We are so proud of the work Katie, Niels and the entire Conservation Club is doing to strive for a greener tomorrow. Please consider helping in their collection efforts. Cap collection bins can be found in the Mohr Information Commons.

UPDATE: As of February 26. 2019, Katie, Niels and the Conservation Club have reached their ultimate goal of 250 lbs. of plastic caps – and over three months ahead of schedule! Congratulations to all of those that have taken part in this project, donated, or helped in any way along the way. We can’t wait to see the final product of all of your efforts!