Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Community Recycling Continues Strong!

It is obvious by now that the Community Recycling Drop Off program is going strong. Not only are the amounts of recyclables rather consistent, but the number of families and volunteers involved is steadily increasing. This past Saturday the Community Recycling Drop Off program generated the following goods:


  • Cardboard: 114 kg
  • Mixed Paper: 290 kg
  • Newspaper: 295 kg
  • Plastic: 90 kg
  • Tetra Pak: 23 kg
  • Aluminum: 16 kg
  • TOTAL: 828 kg
Thank you, once again, for all the community efforts in keeping recyclable goods out of Malaysian landfills!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Plastic Water Bottles at Ampang... by the numbers

It's been brewing for a while... subtle comments here, more deliberate conversation there, a discussion about what to do about it a little further down the hallway.. plastic water bottles at ISKL seem to be a common point of concern for most. How can, after all, a school promote environmentally-appropriate behaviors and simultaneously afford its students, community and guests the necessity of clean water?

On one side we have those who argue that five times more water is used to make the bottle itself than is stored in it, and that plastic is forever, reaching far shores out of sight and out of mind for most (Midway Island is a good topic for a YouTube short film of two), killing animals, destroying ecosystems and polluting human population centers along the way.

On the other side are thos who contest that we are a school... what better a place to educate our sons and daughters about the benefit of reusing and recycling. Eliminating water bottles by decree would not be as effective in the long term as teaching students to reduce, reuse and recycle for themselves. After all, our recycling program is working rather well as it is.

This entire discussion prompted an admittedly informal and non-scientific inquiry into ISKL's water bottle usage. It comprised of just one question: How many water bottles do we use at ISKL?

The appropriate reference point seemed to be Connie's Corner, the source of most water bottles on the Ampang campus. It should be noted that Connie's has been extremely supportive of our environmental efforts throughout its long history at our school and this blog is by no means intended to place blame on their operation but rather to identify the demand that ISKL has on water bottles.

Connie's informed me that the concession sells approximately 20 boxes (24 bottles per box) per week on average. More water is purchased when we have special events, such as SEA Forensics, International Fest or IASAS, hosted at ISKL. Likewise, short weeks might results in a smaller demand.

So, if Ampang sells 480 water bottles per five-day week (or roughly 96 bottles per day), and our school year is 180 school days long, it would seem reasonable to conclude that, as a ballpark figure, we use 17,280 bottles of water at the Ampang campus, excluding special events. It should be noted that this number does not include bottles from non-water beverages such as ice tea and fruit juices.

According to our HS Counseling Office, our current (as of November 20th) Ampang student population stands at 981 students (HS: 618; MS: 363). Our adult working population stands at roughly 190. Given these numbers, the 17,280 water bottles equates to roughly 14.76 per person (in school).

Some might see this statistic from one perspective: This could indicate that our population reuses their bottles, as they are expected to do. Certainly this would be a success considering what our demand might have been if we were using one bottle per person per day: 210,780 bottles.

On the other hand, we might compare our current number (17,280) to what might be if everyone used just one reusable bottle/cup throughout the year: 1,171.

It seems likely that, though we should celebrate what we have accomplished in comparing ourselves to the "what could have been", we should simultaneously continue working towards the "what should be".

Either way you look at it, the reality is this: As a school in a time of challenging environmental times, with a vision statement and Student Learning Results making appropriate note of the environment, it is important to be an example and to move forward towards reducing our footprint as well as educating our community about the decisions we all make on a daily basis.

As a community we need to recognize the impact of our everyday decisions, the implications of these decisions when projected onward throughout a lifetime, and empower ourselves, our families, friends and colleagues to make small changes today, tomorrow and the next day. If we can reduce the number of bottles to 17,279 tomorrow it would be a start.

Remember, before we recycle, and before we reuse, we should be actively determining ways in which we can reduce. It is only through reduction, in the end, that we can truly say that we are making a difference.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

MNS Open Day on Nov. 22 at FRIM

Research has shown time and time again that, if you want your children to learn to appreciate and care for the environment, there is no more powerful a learning tool than spending quality time with loved ones in the outdoors when they are young. For adults too, nature provides a respite from the business and routine of urban life. The following is a re-print from an email forwarded by Kenny Peavy to the Green Team regarding the Malaysian Nature Society Outdoor Day this coming Saturday. Please attend, bring your family and enjoy what nature has to offer!


Come and join us for an informal, family-oriented day of fun and activities in the beautiful green surroundings of FRIM. Use this occasion to meet and mingle with new and veteran members as well as non-members and their families. Bring your friends and loved ones. Share your infectious love of Nature with everybody.
We have lined up a long list of exciting and interesting activities to showcase the efforts of our Special Interest Groups serviced solely by dedicated volunteers.

For all Walks, please register early( by 15th. Nov ) to avoid disappointment as tickets are limited. Please come suitably attired with good shoes and a bottle of water.

Canopy Walks (30 pax per slot)
2 slots. 1) 9.30 am. 2) 11.00 am.
Tickets:- Adults- (RM5.00) Students- (RM3.00) Children (6-12 yrs)-RM1.00
Register with Leo Khang Meng (
Meet outside the Auditorium at FRIM, pay for your tickets and you will be guided to the Canopy Walkway by our volunteers.

Keruing Trail Walks (20 pax per walk) (approx. 1 hr)
2 slots 1) 10.00 am. 2) 3.00 pm.
Tickets: -Adults (RM2.00) Children (6-12 years)-RM1.00
Meet outside the Museum at FRIM. Please contact Mariam Jutta, your guide .(017-5027584, )

Rover Track Walks (20 pax per walk) (approx 1 ? hr)
2 slots 1) 10.00 am. 2) 3.00 pm
Tickets-Adults(RM2.00) Children (6-12 years)-RM1.00
Meet at NEC Nature Guide Booth.
Please contact John Chan (016-3569169,

Herpetofauna Night Walk
Please contact Hurnain ( 019-3405394, )

Other Activities (at NEC, FRIM)

9.00 am. Come early with your binoculars and join Yati in a birding session around FRIM.

Fire Startng Techniques
11.00 am.–Bow and Drill method
2.00 pm. – Fire Saw method

Talks and Screenings

10.00 am. Talk on Status of Marine Life in Malaysia
11.00 am. Talk by MNS HQ
12.00 pm Documentary on Maliau Basin
12.30 pm. Slide show on Herpetofauna
2.00 pm Documentary on Shark Water
3.00 pm Talk on Composting
4.00 pm. Talk by MNS HQ

From 9.00 am to 5.00 pm
1. Climate Change Action Survey
2. 3-R games
3. Green Living Quiz
4. Sale of Books, Merchandise and Plants
5. Face-painting and Henna-painting
6. Art and Craft
7. Composting Demo
8. Abseiling- the Single Rope technique
9. Collection of Recyclables (please bring things that can be recycled)
10. MY CAT –Tiger Conservation
11. Tips on Photography
12. Membership Drive.


Bring a mat/plastic sheet and enjoy a relaxing picnic with family and friends.

Have a Great Day!!!

For more information, please contact Pasu at pasupathy_jayaraj@yahoo,com (019-3199770) or Hui Min at

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Positive Steps Forward

I have had the pleasure (and pressure) of working as ISKL's Green Team Coordinator for the past five years. In that time I have been witness to an ever-growing awareness and environmental consciousness in everything we do. Certainly, vocabulary like "carbon offsets", "carbon neutral" and "sustainability" may have been known to some a few short years ago, but are now almost commonplace.

As the recognition of the need for an Environmental Ethos at ISKL, originally identified in the 2002 WASC accreditation process, has become more entrenched in our mindset, and as best-practices are identified and promoted on our campuses and community, it it important to recognize that no one can change the world alone. Over the past two years the Green Team has identified a number of priorities (referred to as "Bold Thoughts") that ISKL should consider in order to truly move toward being a sustainable campus.

If we are to become stewards of our environment, as we say we hope to, then we must internalize and lead by example. Research suggests that the defining variable in one's awareness and empathy toward the natural environment is one's personal experiences at a young age. Anectotal evidence at ISKL suggests that most students have no participation in activities of any sort outdoors and nature takes a back seat to shopping and computer games as a pass time. Most notably, Kenny Peavy's study of ISKL middle school students indicated that a rather large number of them had Malaysia Week to thank for their only (or one of very few) outdoor experiences. If one was to generalize, and take such evdience, anectodal though it might be, and project to the next generation, the world's population is headed into a very nature-deprived existence.

In last year's CIS/WASC accreditation visit, the accreditation team mentioned environmental stewardship and education as one of their recommendations for improvement. The Green Team and our school's administration has embraced this very idea, and is moving toward that end each and every day.

Our new vision statement includes a mention of the word "environment". This, though seemingly minor, is a major step forward for our school's efforts to promote sound environmental practices. It puts the environment "on the map" so to speak, and allows us to keep our sights on tangible, measurable and quanfiable means with which to reach sustainability.

Our school has been working on it for a while, of course. Styrofoam was banned from our campuses last year. We are working toward eliminating toxic cleaning agents from our campuses. Recycling, notably, has found strong backing in our community. Our administration is prioritizing the environmental impact of our current behaviors and infrastructure and has begun setting action plans for structural changes in the functioning of our school. There is deliberation regarding the creation of an environmental education coordinator - an arguably necessary step - in the not-so-distant future. There is discussion about measurement and accountability in all we do. There are hopes for a building that will serve as a "living classroom" for our science and environmental classes. The Green Team is moving forward in plans to introduce composting on both campuses. There are also conversations going on with Julie James (HS World Class Coordinator) and Karen Palko (MS Malaysia Week) on how the environment can be better prioritized in experiential learning opportunities offered here. Likewise, ISKL now boasts its participation in the Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots Program and the presence of divisional clubs in the Elementary School (Green Earth Club), the Middle School (Earth Explorers) and High School (Earth Club) involved directly with the environment.

We are still a good deal away from being a "green" school. At ISKL, changes take place slowly and deliberately, as they should. Internalizing an environmental ethos takes longer for some than for others. Fortunately, at ISKL it is steadily taking hold. Discussions of environmental issues can be heard in the hallways, from the cleaning of table tops after lunch to the economic benefits of sustainable living in lessons.

The Green Team is a rather small, volunteer-based group. But it seems increasingly obvious that the community's recognition of the importance of our work is growing, along with the realization that it takes an entire community to make change. With this in mind, we move forward.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Community Recycling Offers Chance to Make a Difference

Prior to January 2007 there was no Community Recycling at ISKL. For the year prior to that, data was collected from students at the Ampang Campus regarding their recycling behaviors. Similar data was collected from parents through an online survey. The general concensus: There is a lot of recycling going on at school, but almost none at home. The reasons we were twofold: First, that there was no recognizable recycle infrastructure in place from home. Second, often family behavioral expectations differed from those of the school, resuling in a marked behavioral difference between home and school recycling.

In January 2007, the Green Team took a step forward in giving our community a chance to recycle by setting up an agreement with a local NGO named TrEES. By introducing Community Recycling to our school we not only offer the opportunity for families who would normally recycle to continue this positive behavior, but also bring recycling to the forefront of the minds of those who didn't do that before.

So now, roughly once a month, on a Saturday morning, the Ampang campus parking lot comes alive with a buzz of activity which has increased over the past two years. Community Recycling has now become part of our ISKL culture and set of behavioral assumptions, and more and more people are showing up with their newspapers, plastic, tin cans, magazines, cardboard, aluminum cans and Tetra Pak in an attempt to make a positive difference. No one forces them to do so. No one is counting. No one is holding them personally accountable, except, perhaps, for themselves. And this is the heartening fact. Community Recycling has become a success, when it is held up entirely - from those doing the recycling to those helping out - by volunteer effort.

But not only that. The Community Recycling Program has also brought community members old and young together as one unifying force. On November 1st the Melawati Girl Scouts arrived for what promises to be a monthly presence. Mr. Chmelik and his wife Betsy are often seen there, sorting and stacking recyclables. Lisa Nazim and Ronnie Wynne, who organized the Nov. 1st drop off, were happy with the results of the day. Lisa noted that, to her recollection, this was arguably the largest recycling day ever.

Other voluteers have included Everett Burke who, since his arrival at ISKL last year, has been to each and every one. Also, Lyn and Rob Thompson, Scott Anders, Rebecca Lemos, Earl and Gayle Turko, Adda Cuthbert, Kenny Peavy, Mark Walsh, Lynne Smith, Gelaldine McCavanaugh, Silver Candler and her two lovely children, to name just a few, are seen doing their fair share to lend a helping hand.

In just under two years we have collected over 22,000 kg of recyclables at ISKL. Considering how much this program can still grow, this is a powerful message that we can make a difference for our environment. That is 22 truck loads of waste that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill. And that's not half-bad for two hours a month.

Think about what we can do with even more of us on-board. So, if you don't currently recycle your waste, please take a moment to think about doing so. It is never too late. Let's keep Community Recycling going stong! Who knows, you might ever come to realize that, apart from doing what is right, it's also a really good time!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Welcome to ISKL's Green Page

Welcome to ISKL's new Green Page!

Green Team has taken a bold move forward to establish a blog relating to all things 'green' at ISKL and we look forward to using this blog as a tool to reach our community of parents, students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. Look to this blog for information regarding our efforts, activities and initiatives throughout the academic year.

Welcome to a new Green Generation of ISKL!