Earth Day is much more than one day or one event at Chemainus Secondary School.
And, this month, students there are being recognized for their efforts after winning the BC Green Games Secondary School Energy Prize. This is the fifth year of Science World’s annual province-wide contest that rewards students’ environmental success stories, and Chemainus Secondary is one of three schools that received an Energy Prize for demonstrating a strong commitment to energy conservation.
“It is a great honour to receive the BC Greens Games Energy Prize,” said teacher sponsor Nancy Henry. “The Chemainus Secondary Green Team has been working diligently this year to become a zero-waste school, with support from the Cowichan School Board and Duncan and North Cowichan municipalities. This award and recognition shows the team that our efforts are being recognized.”
The Green Team has been busy implementing positive changes inside and outside the walls of Chemainus Secondary.
Every classroom now has a compost bin, and the school is part of North Cowichan’s green curbside pickup. There are no longer garbage bins inside each classroom , and the entire school only has a few bins in the hallways. The school has reduced its garbage consumption from two dumpsters to half a dumpster, noted Henry.
Members of the Chemainus Secondary Green Team have gone into their feeder elementary schools to make presentations to students about how they can make changes to be more environmentally friendly and more energy-efficient, noted Green Team member Claire Saunders.
The Green Team has also installed energy-efficient power bars in the school and has upgraded a washroom at the school to make it more efficient. They’ve taken out all the paper towels so they now have only hand dryers in the washrooms, explained Victoria Morgan.
Another step the Green Team has taken was to install sensor lighting in the school.
Members of the Green Team are very appreciative of how their school and community have supported their initiatives.
“All the students have been really accepting and open to it,” said Saunders.
Hannah Holmes says they were a bit worried there wouldn’t be enough participation when they first started working on some of their green initiatives, but everyone has responded really well.
“We want to say thank you to everyone who’s been participating and to everybody for making it possible for us,” said Morgan.
Looking ahead, the Green Team will be getting two rain barrels for the school.
The students will make a presentation to School District 79 with BC Hydro on April 24, and the Green Team will be sharing its success stories with local families and businesses during a community information night on May 14.
“We’ll be encouraging businesses to do things like we’ve done,” explained Holmes.
The students plan to show businesses how they can actually save money by being more energy efficient and by reducing their garbage consumption, explained Chelsea Quist.
“Hopefully it doesn’t take too long, but it’s going to be the future,” said Saunders. “It just makes sense.”
“We’re trying to make this more a lifestyle than a one-day event,” added Morgan.