TWHS Student Takes to Instagram to Spread Importance of Living Sustainably


Ava Gertler poses in the first post on her Instagram account, @startingsustainably. She uses it as a platform to share ideas about sustainability aimed at young people.

Ava Gertler, a junior at Thomas Worthington High School, is working hard to inform others about sustainability through her new Instagram account, @startingsustainably. Her goal is to post facts, suggestions, and local business spotlights to inform and inspire change.

 “As part of my final year project in the Global Scholars Diploma Program, I have decided to create an account that encourages individual environmental sustainability in a realistic perspective,” said Gertler. 

It’s no secret that the world is facing climate change and it has a direct link to humans. Global warming is worsening exponentially and the UN has issued a “code red for humanity” because the impacts will be catastrophic. The only way we can try to slow the destruction of our Earth is by significantly increasing efforts towards a more sustainable planet. Gertler believes that “we only have one Earth and if we are going to continue to take from it, we should also be giving back to it in some way”. 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.” Steps need to be taken on a global level, but society can individually do its part by researching, informing others, and making more eco-friendly decisions on a daily basis. According to Gertler, “sustainability improves the quality of our lives, protects our ecosystem, and preserves our natural resources for future generations.”

For this reason, Gertler created a sustainability account. She aims to educate everyday citizens about the importance of sustainability and some affordable alternatives. She started her account at the end of January and plans to post roughly 3 times a week. So far, she has talked about fast fashion, how to build a conscious closet, shopping alternatives, and a local business spotlight. The posts are appealing and easy to understand making it a great “starter’s guide to a more sustainable lifestyle”. 

While Gertler informs her followers of the importance of sustainability, she recognizes that it will not be an immediate change and that any small step helps. “I, myself, am nowhere near perfect in achieving a zero-waste lifestyle, however, I still do my best to minimize my waste and carbon footprint in any way that I can.”

Not only does Gertler explain how fast fashion is detrimental to our planet but she also offers a realistic perspective because she understands the desire to be “on trend”. She explains the steps to creating a conscious closet and recommends eco-friendly brands. Additionally, she acknowledges that sustainable brands tend to be more expensive, so she also recommends buying secondhand clothing. The first business spotlight on the page was for Green Haven Living in Westerville, Ohio. Gertler interviewed the founder, Angie Scheu, who says “sustainability can touch every part of your life and can be a healthier lifestyle option for people of all ages”. 

The catalyst for this project was Gertler’s participation in the Global Scholars Diploma program for the Columbus Council of World Affairs. It is a three-year program that encourages high school students to “communicate and collaborate face-to-face with global community partners, businesses, civic leaders, and people of varying cultural backgrounds”. 

Participants meet four times a year and each year has activities aimed at expanding knowledge about global issues. The first year is for increasing awareness, the second is for building skills, and the third year is for taking action. The Take Action project is meant to “demonstrate the abilities and knowledge that they have cultivated over the course of the first two years”, and they are presented at showcases held in April. 

The next topic that will be covered on the account is food waste. Gertler plans on giving suggestions for eating habits, product recommendations, information on composting, and spotlights for local restaurants that are sustainable. Gertler believes that “the most important thing is for people to be conscious of their decisions and the consequences they might have”. 

So far, the account has been very successful and has received positive feedback. Sophia Haws, a junior at TWHS, says “I love the way she makes it educational and visually appealing”. Haws also believes that it is “something [Ava] has always been passionate about”. @startingsustainably is growing rapidly and it has the potential to impact the lifestyle of many in our community.