5 sustainable changes students led at Woodstock High School (and you can too!)
Jan 24, 2019
By Jane Burchill
This Fall, students at Woodstock High took action on climate change by making impressive improvements around their school. In order to make these changes, students used data collected in the Sustainability in Action program led by The Gaia Project last February. Here are some of their impressive steps forward:
1.Starting a compost program: After a group identified how much compost was being put into the garbage bins, a compost program was developed and is now in the works! All you need is a few indoor bins, one big outdoor bin (enroll the shop class!) and some volunteers to bring the compost out (cue Environmental Science club!)
Small scale composting is the best way to reduce emissions from food waste.
2. Adding vending misers: One group of students identified that the vending machines could be using less energy if a vending miser was installed. Vending misers at Woodstock High now reduce energy use by not keeping the temperature as cold and lights on in times the vending machine isn’t used.
Reducing CO2 emissions by 46% and saving on average $150 in energy costs per machine per year!
3. Distributing reusable water bottles: Another group realized that students are buying plastic water bottles because they don’t have access to a reusable one. So far 100 reusable bottles have been distributed, saving students money and plastic from landfills! Look for a local business to donate some to your school!
Manufacturing 1 tonne of plastic bottles creates 3 tonnes of CO2!
4. Growing local food: Most schools have a greenhouse or outdoor space to grow food. Woodstock High started taking advantage of these spaces and growing their own delicious lunches and snacks.
The food for 1 meal can travel ~3000 km to get to your table in Canada.
5. Planting trees: After finding out just how much carbon dioxide is put into the atmosphere to make electricity using fossil fuel sources in New Brunswick, students planted over 100 native trees along the Meduxnekeag River Valley, now acting as a carbon sink!
Absorbing 4,800 lbs of CO2 per year!
Students continue to collect data to monitor improvements, as we say at Gaia, you can’t manage what you don’t measure! This program and the improvements were sponsored by the Meduxnekeag River Association (MRA).
“We chose to sponsor this program from The Gaia Project because we wanted the students to make data-based decisions about sustainability in the school,” said Jennifer from the MRA, “and we knew The Gaia Project had the tools and knowledge to facilitate this.”
Sustainability in Action allows students to investigate sustainability issues around their school, including but not limited to energy, water, waste, transport and food. Students choose a sustainability question, collect data, do financial and environmental calculations and come up with a plan to take action!
About the Author:
Jane has been with The Gaia Project since 2017. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and many years of youth facilitation work.
Click here to learn more about Jane.
Interested in a Sustainability in Action program at your school? Sign up here: http://thegaiaproject.ca/en/sign-up/
Bottled water and energy fact sheet. Pacific Institute. https://pacinst.org/publication/bottled-water-and-energy-a-fact-sheet/
How many kilometres do the foods in an average Canadian meal travel to get to your table? Development and Peace. https://www.devp.org/en/sharelent/solidarity-calendar/food-transportation
Vending Miser. http://www.energymisers.com/vendingmiser.php