Over the past few weeks in Grade 5, we have been developing plans for reducing waste in the school as part of our 'Sharing the Planet' unit. Five teams in the class have been working to combat five different types of common waste that schools usually have - paper waste, food waste, water waste, electricity waste and the amount of trash that is produced.
In an assembly, the teams created presentations to showcase the information they had discovered already about the various problems. The next step was coming up with solutions and Grade 5 is certainly ready to take action and make a positive difference.
The food waste team identified meal times and snack times as the main sources of food waste in the school, and they proposed the solution of creating a compost pile on campus that will be used to turn trash into fertiliser for the school gardens.
After presenting a proposal to the administration, and finding recycled materials, the food waste team has now become responsible for the school’s first compost pile, which will be a trial to see how well the idea works.
The food waste team has also made a presentation explaining what types of food can be put in there and what cannot, and the work that needs to be done to maintain the pile and hopefully streamline the decomposition process.
The electricity and water waste teams have been working hard to design posters that help to remind everyone to ‘Turn It Off’ when they are in the bathroom or leaving the classrooms.
The water team hopes to draw attention to how much water is wasted when flushing the toilet, washing hands, or brushing teeth. The electricity team hopes to motivate the community to reduce using so much power for iPads, smartboards, air-conditioning, and lights. Because their problems are similar, both teams have approached their solutions in similar ways.
The class learned how to recycle paper at the start of the unit, and now students can make up to 14 new sheets of recycled paper every day (if it is sunny enough). So far Grade 5 has produced over 100 new sheets of paper and we are coming up with new ways to use this paper every week! By spreading this message, the paper team hopes to draw attention to the large amounts of paper that are used and thrown away unnecessarily in the school.
The trash team has developed a plan that works with the food team and the paper team so that each classroom is equipped with boxes to collect paper for recycling, and other boxes to collect classroom wastes that can be used in the compost. The trash team has used designed reusable boxes with easy, contact-free doors so that the process is as clean as possible.
Working together, the Grade 5 teams have come up with a comprehensive plan for raising the waste accountability of each student in TWIS. Hopefully, the programs we implement will be maintained for the rest of the school year, and provide the foundation for a permanent attitude towards waste reduction that future students will carry forward. While this is just the first step, the seed we plant now will grow into an unstoppable movement that will form a vital part of the TWIS culture, and hopefully, the broader Chinese culture as well.