Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Making our Campuses Eco-Friendly Learning Environments

There comes a certain amount of experimentation that goes in in trying to keep up with the times and shifting our old-style thinking processes to recognizing that a new sustainability consciousness is necessary in order to prepare our students for the rest of their lives. When we grew up with one family phone, they go through several just through their schooling years. Where recycling was something reserved for "tree huggers" in the old days, now the concept of recycling is common place on campus and around the world. Certainly a new paradigm shift - a new way of doing things - will leave some of us in the middle between old and new. This is the case for many of us adults who might be having difficulty grasping both the need for, and certainly the manner by which, we can be sustainable in our ways. 

But for our students we hope that it will be another matter altogether. The Melawati campus has garden areas where students are taught about gardening, growing and taking care of things. Their teachers are working on making them conscientious citizens by promoting recycling, reusing and reducing in their daily practices. The campus will, during this semester, welcoming a new digester to its repertoire of systematic environmentally-friendly facilities. The digester will essentially take cafeteria waste (thus eliminating it from the waste that goes to the landfill), and turn it into gas which will then be re-funneled into the cafeteria to provide energy for the cooking of food. It's the kind of systemic thinking that eliminates a large portion of waste that happens currently in much of what we do in our lives.

At Ampang we have solar power to run fans on the upper field, we have water harvesting that happens in the back, allowing for water to be used in the bathrooms in the art block. We also have vermiposting and composting that takes place, allowing for our waste (at least on the fields) to be reutilized in our grounds planting efforts. Our students likewise use parts of campus as labs and in gardening. 

The newest (until the digester becomes operational) eco-friendly facilities are the bathrooms of the Ampang campus nearest the cafeteria which were recently renovated, turning into water-less bathrooms. Using an enzyme the bathrooms are expected to do everything a bathroom should but with no water usage (except for washing ones hands, that is). This change might require some psychological adjustment on the part of our community, but goes a long way in terms of prioritizing local resources.There is a bit of experimental feel to this too, because they are considered a bit of a pilot study for when the new campus materializes. 

So, if you're using the bathrooms in Ampang or turning on the fans in the Upper Field, and have a meal at Melawati remember that you're not only doing what you always do. You are playing your part in teaching your sons and daughters that there is a better way to providing for human needs with a much reduced environmental cost. In short, you are experiencing the sustainability paradigm shift in real time. 

Of course, the shift can only really take shape if our minds follow what our eyes are seeing. And in this, we hope that you'll all join us in celebrating such opportunities to make a positive difference and being great role models for your children. Go ahead, shift!

No comments: