Under the aegis of the Lower School Head, Ecole Bilingue is inaugurating a program to make the school greener. The initiative relies on the Eco-Schools model, that was developed 25 years ago in various European countries and that involves not just the facilities’ team in schools, but the entire community.
At the beginning of the year, all elementary grade students attended a special assembly on the impact of factory farming on the environment presented by Monica Chen, the National Program Director at Factory Farming Awareness Coalition. Following Monica's presentation, many students felt compelled to do more to foster a sustainable school. Those students volunteered or were chosen to be “eco-delegués” of their class, and they meet regularly to discuss and plan actions to improve the school’s environmental footprint.
In early October, some parents, teachers, Monica Chen and one eco-délégué per class, met for the first Eco-Council of the Lower School. The group decided to tackle two goals: the school’s waste and its biodiversity.
First Step: the Environmental Review
It was decided that the first step is to conduct an environmental review of the problem (see all steps in the graphic at the end of this article). When it comes to waste, the goal is to assess how much waste is produced by the school, and reduce it over time. The students started by weighing each class’ trash for one week to gather data. They also mapped out where trash is found in the yard to address the litter outside. Regarding biodiversity, students were tasked to assess the wildlife population on campus (birds, insects, flowers, trees and plants), with the intent of improving it in the future.
During the next meeting in November, participants will come up with an environmental review plan to reduce waste and increase biodiversity in the school. The Eco-Council will also connect with the Middle School’s Green Council composed of 6th, 7th and 8th grade students.
Eco-School projects encourage young people to engage with their environment by allowing them the opportunity to actively protect it. It is an ideal way for schools to embark on a meaningful path towards improving the environment in both the school and the local community, while at the same time having a life-long positive impact on the lives of young people, their families, school staff and local authorities.
Through this program, young people experience a sense of achievement in being able to have a say in the environmental management policies of their school, ultimately steering them towards certification and the prestige which comes with being awarded a Green Flag from the National Wildlife Federation.