What a Waste!
Earth Club students at Fort Richmond Collegiate returned from the Climate Action Forum inspired and ready to create actionable change. With this inspiration, the Earth Club created the ‘What a Waste’ program with the hopes of decreasing the amount of waste that our school and community produce and educating our school and community on how to limit the amount of non-food waste we produce, on how waste and climate change impact biodiversity and local animals, and on proper waste sorting techniques. Paired with these hopes was the vision to create interactive, engaging and fun activities to reach our student body and staff, and the community of Fort Richmond Collegiate to inspire them to take action on important issues, as all our actions combined can create meaningful, long-term change.
Earth Club began its ‘What a Waste’ program firstly by removing plastic forks from the cafeteria and replacing them with real forks instead. Students did an audit of the cafeteria and learned that the type of cutlery most used in the cafeteria was forks and that approximately 25-30 plastic forks were used per day from the cafeteria. Earth Club created a system where students could take a fork from a container where they order food from in the cafeteria. Earth Club created a drop-off station for used forks on the opposite side of the cafeteria for students to place their used forks in. Earth Club students created a system where each day of the week a different student or group of two would pick up the used forks and run them through a highly efficient dishwasher and return the clean forks back to the cafeteria. This fork program has been running seamlessly for 3 months, which means that this program created by Earth Club students has prevented approximately 2,000 plastic forks from going in the landfill.
Once the fork system began and was running smoothly, Earth Club students wanted to take their action further by connecting with the school and community through education, activities and activism. To do so, Earth Club decided to design an Earth Week for the school and community from April 17th to April 21st. Before the week began, Earth Club students went into all classrooms and educated students on what Earth Week was and how to get involved, how to decrease the amount of waste we produce and specifically what litterless lunches are. Each day during Earth Week, Earth Club students went throughout the school to find students who had litterless lunches and awarded them with a prize. Some of the prizes included reusable straws, reusable tumblers/drink containers, reusable food containers, cutlery packages (spoon, fork and knife in container), family passes to Fort Whyte Alive, and more. The purpose behind the type of prizes was to encourage students to continue to bring litterless lunches and to limit the amount of non-food waste they produce. Additionally, these prizes can be used within whole families and therefore makes the impact go further than just on our school and on the community as a whole. By the end of the week, Earth Club students had students running up to them excited to show off their litterless lunch! Lastly, the Earth Week included the following activities:
Monday: Poster-making for a climate rally using primarily recyclable materials at lunch.
Tuesday: Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre presentation at lunch.
Wednesday: Eco-Conscious Escape Room
Thursday: Carnival Games (Plinko Healthy/Unhealthy Environment, Recycling Sorting, Recycling Basketball)
Friday: Climate Rally with special local guest/celebrity Ace Burpee
While Earth week was just one week, Earth Club’s goal is to continue to give out prizes randomly to students who have litterless lunches to encourage students to always be conscious of the waste they are producing, not just during Earth Week.
The excitement, energy and participation in Earth Week and in the fork system showed Earth Club students that their actions have impact and can make a difference. Bringing the school and community together through their sustainable and climate action initiatives served as further motivation to continue to create change in new and innovative ways. Now, Earth Club can’t help but think, what’s next?
Reflection & Celebration
Through the creation of the fork system and all that encompassed Earth Week, Earth Club students came to the realization of the impactful action that they can have within their school, community and beyond. Earth Club students remained incredibly dedicated and motivated throughout all their initiatives and although hiccups such as finding guests to attend the rally, finding the most eco-conscious prizes, planning games, booking Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and more, the learning within the club was immense. Earth Club students plan to continue the fork system and would like to expand to spoons as well, they plan to continue to educate students about litterless lunches and have goals to create a café to decrease the high volume of coffee cups from nearby businesses that go into the landfill. Through these plans of continuance and goals, Earth Club wants to bring in the school and community to make sustainability and climate action a constant part of our learning and experiences at Fort Richmond Collegiate.
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