It’s been a year since Metro Vancouver’s food scraps landfill ban was introduced. For the next steps in waste reduction, creative strategies are increasingly part of the conversation. Here are a couple of ways students are bringing attention to solutions.
Grade School Poster Contest Winner Highlights Waste Reduction
It’s not every day you see a little girl drive past in a garbage truck, but then again, it’s not every day an eleven year old sees her artwork displayed on the vehicle that picks up your garbage. Both were part of the recognition Elena Massing received for her winning poster in New Westminster’s annual Environmental poster contest.
Annual Contest Part of Earth Day Celebrations
“We offer it every year to the grade five and six students in elementary school here in New Westminster,” explains Jennifer Lukianchuk, City of New Westminster Environmental Coordinator. “The poster contest is run over Earth Day each year, with is April 22nd, so it gives that opportunity for the classes to be involved with an environmental activity during that period.”
Raising Awareness for Residential Waste Reduction
The contest is a joint venture by the City and school board of New Westminster. It contributes to awareness around regional waste reduction, which is important, since residential actions are a key part of the goal to reduce waste.
The goal is to bring environmental awareness to our community. It’s important to start young, because when they get older they carry on these actions further and even with their families, notes Lukianchuk.
“I try to recycle what I can,” says Massing. “Like if i have bottles or paper i try to recycle it instead. Well, i don’t really want to throw it in the garbage because it seems like it could be reused in some way. Like if i have used a piece of paper already, if i’m doing something that’s not really important, i try to just use the other side so i don’t have to throw it away. I try to do as much as i can.”
Elena’s poster is designed to represent the Earth. She explains the symbolism.
“I made the top words zero waste yellow to sort of be like the sun. And then I had reduce reuse recycle on the side sort of like water, and then for the tree I had the bad words like pollution or global warming in like brown for the dirt. And then for the actual tree I tried to use good words like peace or recycle or habitat. ”
But what Elena’s poster really represents is hope for the future, when a new generation will understand the need for all of us to be better stewards of our planet.
Burnaby Students Step Up to Tackle Food Scraps
In Burnaby, students are taking an active role to implement and monitor their food scrap recycling programs.
“Last year around September Burnaby South got 20 new bins, where we mapped out possible locations and placed them where they were needed,” explains Cathy Ye, chair of the Burnaby South Secondary Green Team.
At Moscrop Secondary, food scraps recycling got underway at the start of this school year.
“We knew we wouldn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars for flashy containers,” says Ron Hall, Director of Learning for the Burnaby school district. “So it was really about getting down to brass tacks, how were we going to make this happen with the materials we had to work with.”
Program Thrives Through Consultation and Cooperation
Alice Huang, chair of the Burnaby Youth Sustainability Network explains the process.
“We met with Rick Sanders who is the custodial manager in Burnaby and we went around the school and we marked the best locations for each food scrap bins and making sure that each bin had to be at least 50 feet apart from each other.”
The students meet through the Burnaby Youth Sustainability Network to share their knowledge.
“Within this network we have meetings, I guess each week or every two weeks,” notes Burnaby South Secondary Green Team Secretary Gillian Xu. “We would discuss both problems and solutions for each individual school.”
Metro Vancouver produced a popular Food Isn’t Garbage campaign, and made the print materials widely available for public use, including in schools.
Changing Culture with Green Goals
“In terms of the promotional work we have posters set up all across the school,” says Xu. “And with these posters we hope to promote the initiative further.”
“It’s a great opportunity for the students to step up and be leaders and help change the culture,” notes Ron Hall
”I think the main thing that will make the food scraps program a success is make sustainability attractive and make it ‘in’ to be sustainable,” says Alice Huang.
“Eventually like how we did with paper recycling we will get to the point where everyone is using the food scraps bin every day without even thinking about it. It’s also our responsibility to fix current programs and create new programs and systems in place so that future generations don’t have to deal with that.”
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