Students at Chemainus Secondary School got their school year started with some trash talk in an effort to move towards zero waste by the end of the year.
Led by student council and the Energy Ambassadors Club, students will be examining how best to facilitate school-wide zero waste policy and education and presenting their findings to the school district and Cowichan Valley Regional District, to name a few.
“This project is just in the beginning stages,” said Michele Staples, education outreach worker with the Cowichan Green Community and CVRD. “The kids have already committed to doing this; they’re coming up with an action plan.”
In addition, two recycling stations have been ordered for the school, which will hold three separate containers for compostables, recycling and returnables.
“We’re ready to rock and roll; our staff is totally on board and we can’t wait to get those compost buckets — we want them here yesterday,” said instructor Nancy Henry, who heads the Energy Ambassadors. “The staff are really keen on getting the compost buckets in the classrooms … we’ll have the green larger bins for the foods room and our cafeteria.”
But the students want to take it even further, said school principal Sian Peterson, and that’s where the planning process will come in.
“Schools are doing recycling everywhere, but we’re going a little bit further and doing the compostables,” she said. “We’re going to find places for our old batteries, textbooks and furniture — everything that can be recycled.”
Henry added that they would like to recycle lunch wrappers such as sandwich bags and granola bar wrappings.
Recently, the school has also been working towards several other environmental initiatives. The Energy Ambassadors were part of a lighting upgrade project which has already reduced consumption by about 30 per cent, Peterson said. In addition, the school provides the students with filtered water in an effort to reduce the use of plastic bottles.
The school held a Green Day Barbecue to kick off the start of school and its zero waste efforts. Keeping in line with the zero waste theme, napkins used during the barbecue were compostable, and all utensils used for the preparation of the food were washable. Food that could not be saved was composted as well.
Student council and Energy Ambassadors member Rachel Boudreau said the waste that goes on in some schools is completely unnecessary, and she is eager to get the project going.
“I think it’s really important that all schools around Vancouver Island and Canada should be zero waste — we can all do it; it’s not that hard,” she said.