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CELPing the Environment!

Vision

Our vision for Canada is to improve the prevention, reduction, and diversion of waste produced by Canadians.

This issue is important to all Canadians as the Earth’s resources are limited, and the quantity of waste produced is excessive.

Action

After being involved in a number of experiences designed to inform, inspire, and provoke students (completing a school waste audit, visiting a recycling and composting facility, hearing from indigenous leaders, etc) the Community Environmental Leadership Program (CELP) students will be empowered to create initiatives aimed at preventing, reducing, and diverting waste. These initiatives may include a more comprehensive school recycling program, clothing swaps, upcycling…really the sky’s the limit for these students! The most exciting thing is that we, as teachers, have no idea what they will come up with. It will be our role to act as a guide and adult advocate for these students. Please follow us on our journey!
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Week of March 19-23: Students are starting their initial conversation about what issues are in our community in terms of waste diversion. They have already been through the waste unit in SVN3M (Environmental Science) and have performed our school waste audit! Our students have also visited the Guelph Waste Innovation Centre and Recycling Plant to learn about waste diversion.
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Week of April 17th: The students are nailing down the issues they want to tackle! We have 4 groups, focusing on: improving recycling streams, composting, reducing energy, and reuse/reduction of cafeteria waste. We have started to gather information about feasibility of projects and have been working on a planning placemat!
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May 2018: We have now moved into our action phase!
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Our 4 action projects are:

1) Energy: A letter writing campaign to our school board to complete our school’s motion-activated light system. We currently have our classrooms with motion sensing lights, but our students have collected data and determined it important to have motion sensors in the hallways as well. Likewise, this group is creating attractive visual reminders for classrooms to turn off lights, monitors, and electronic equipment.
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2) Recycling: This group is looking to improve our contamination rate in our recycling stream. Students have learned that with a certain level of contamination, recycled materials are no longer able to be sent to market and are often sent to landfill. Using grant money, we are purchasing recycling stations and creating professional-looking and student-friendly posters to encourage and educate our school community in proper waste diversion and reducing contamination. We hope this plan, coupled with announcements, will be an effective strategy!
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3) Organics: This group is planning to create a small-scale organic waste diversion system, focusing on our Family Studies and Foods classes. Currently we do not have any organic waste diversion. This group is pricing out vermicomposters and also researching the cost of building a composter near our newly build community garden. One major issue facing further expansion of the system is who will remove and deal with the day-to-day composting and maintenance in perpetuity.
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4) Reuse Group: This group is focusing on creating a system of reused plates and lunchware for our 3rd party lunch service providers. They are also looking at how “Good On One Side” paper could be created into class notebooks.
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June 2018!!!

We’ve made it! All the projects made great progress, and some are in full high gear!

1) Energy Reduction:
a) The student letters regarding the motion sensors in the hallways were a hit. The Board really liked the statistics reported and are seriously looking into this investment!
b) The computer labs have all been labelled with switches that link to outlets so that only outlets in use can be turned on reducing phantom power usage.
c) An effective “lights out” campaign has been created with edgy posters that target teens!
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2) Recycling: The bins arrived…and they look awesome! Immediately we have seen improvement in contamination. The posters above the bin are simple and show examples of what students throw out.
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3) Composting: The composters arrived and have been installed in our school’s community garden. We also have organic collection bins in key areas. The tumbling composters have already started to be used by both our school members and greater community!
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4) Reused paper: In September, our food service providers will start to use our reusable plates and cutlery. The students in the Den (special needs classroom) with wash and restock the tableware as part of a life skills course. They will be assisted by students earning community service hours.
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All in all…a great job!
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Earlier ideas: Our team attended LSF’s Youth Leadership Forum in Guelph in December. From the speakers and workshops, we learned about sustainability topics and skills such as how to recognize invasive species and more. Learning about these things made us interested in pursuing Action Projects related to: plastic water bottle recycling, food waste composting, and preventing climate change. These things are important to us because because they benefit the environment and reduce our carbon footprint. To fix these issues, some actions we could take are to: start a school garden, increase awareness about sustainability issues, and promote composting food waste. To get started, first we’ll need to talk to our principal and school faculty and staff to learn more about creating a school garden. We hope that by the end of the school year, we will make a garden with our composted materials – veggies and wild flowers will be grown!

Links

13. Climate Action
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
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