My aim as the new student Eco leader was to increase the interaction of the Eco committee with the rest of the school: involving them and letting them know what we are about.
In Eco committee, we work on a variety of projects in our subcategories of Waste, Energy, Biodiversity, Allotment and Global Citizenship. I, personally, had been putting a lot of effort into a project regarding the implementation of a smart system to reduce the excess energy input in the school. This is because our Energy group observed that energy outputs, in particular heating, weren’t being turned off out of school hours or when not in use, resulting in cumulative energy wastage. Although technology is without a doubt a solution to many of our climate challenges, it comes with its complications and costs. Hence, after speaking to the Operations manager, we established the most effective solution: raising awareness. If we could change people’s mind set towards the environment, a change in their behaviour would be induced as a result. This is an even more sustainable solution than one involving technology because when students are at home or when they move on to University or to their work place, the smart technology won’t follow them, but their good habits will. This is when I decided our school needed an environmental awareness event.
Ashlynn White and myself busied ourselves googling global environmental days that we could take part of, which is when we came across Earth hour. It was perfect! It is a phenomenal, global WWF organised event where people turn off their lights for an hour and “turn up the dark” and “shine a light” on environmental matters, be it reducing plastic waste in Indonesia, or looking at renewable energy in Singapore. Better still, Ashlynn is a WWF volunteer and she knew WWF would be more than happy to come in and help.
So, we got to work. There was a fair amount to organise, but with every step I had support, most notably from Ms. Smith, Ms. Daley, Dr. Appleyard, Mr. Weston and of course Ashlynn! In the midst of preparation, we had a visit from an inspiring guest speaker, Manoj Gautam, who presented and emphasised that all the self-sustaining phenomenal projects he had worked on with Nepalese communities were backed by the people who take pride in doing what’s right for the environment. This really encouraged us to carry this event forwards.
All the effort more than paid off with how our BSN Earth hour was received. All the staff members were fantastic as not only did we get approval from them for their classes to participate in our first BSN Earth hour, but excitement towards the cause. A few Eco committee members went around taking pictures of classes in the dark during Earth hour. The enthusiasm that we saw was infectious and left us in an uncontainable state of euphoria for the rest of the day! The student performances during lunch definitely helped keep that spirit up.
My aim of interaction with students really came through. During lunch, I walked up to students asking if they wanted to have their carbon footprint analysed with WWF and make a pledge to improve it. A great deal of students were very enthusiastic. But others said no, at which point I asked why. For me this was the most important part of the day as I wanted to hear their reasoning. It helped me understand their perspective, so that I could reason with them and learn what changes we could make in school to make being green a less cumbersome task.
Overall, the event made people think and that’s the first step! Our community is large and collectively we can greatly reduce our school’s carbon footprint. Following our first BSN Earth hour, I think it’s safe to say that the event has achieved its purpose: initiating our movement towards changing mind sets to change behaviour.
Nicole, Student Leader for Eco