Maya McFadyen, 17.

Maya McFadyen, 17. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Maya McFadyen is on a mission to eliminate carbon emissions.

The Hauppauge High School student, who recently completed her junior year, has launched a project titled Better Minds Bettering Planet, in which she researched and analyzed her school’s carbon footprint and estimated how many carbon dioxide emissions it is responsible for per year. Carbon emissions are a contributor to climate change, which can have negative impacts on the environment and human health, she said.

In an effort to make a change, McFadyen, 17, is raising money to purchase one carbon offset for each ton of the school’s yearly emissions, which she estimates as being around 2,200 tons. Carbon offsets are a trading mechanism that enable the school to compensate for its emissions by investing in projects that reduce or remove emissions elsewhere — such as a hydroelectric power plant in Peru, she said.

So far, McFadyen has raised about $500 through donations from family and friends as well as through the fundraising platform GoFundMe, with the ultimate goal of raising $3,000. Each carbon credit costs between 50 cents and $20, McFadyen said. She said she has not bought any offsets yet.

“The idea came to me because I saw some of the work that people in the United Nations were doing with its carbon offset program,” said McFadyen, who started the effort as a science research project at her school. “I found it really interesting, and I found out other schools were trying to do it, but it kind of flopped and fizzled out after a while.”

To prepare for the project, McFadyen said she researched her school’s utility bills to determine what items on campus were using the most electricity and natural gas. One of the biggest energy-using items is its digital billboard, which promotes school news and has around half the monthly usage per month of an average 2,000 square-foot house in the United States, she said.

“Once I started doing the calculations, it was kind of shocking to see how education can be so unenvironmentally friendly,” she said. Of the project’s importance, she said: “Not only does this initiative aid the environmental impact of the school, but also teaches students to be accountable for their emissions and encourages them to become proactive in minimizing them.”

McFadyen, who said she intends to continue the project into the next school year and even beyond, as she eventually enters college, received a proclamation for her efforts this spring from Suffolk County Legis. Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset).

“I am both proud and thankful of Maya’s magnificent effort to remove carbon emissions from her school,” said Kennedy. “Efforts like this show us that our youth are ready to conquer our future issues with broad knowledge.”

Hauppauge High School Principal Joseph Wieckhorst added: “I am so proud of Maya and the initiative she has taken with this project to help Hauppauge High School become carbon neutral. She is extremely passionate about helping her community and the environment, and this was a perfect way to blend both of those things. Maya is truly an asset to our school and our community, and her work will have a positive impact for years to come.”

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