Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Saying No to "stuff"

If you are an athlete, a parent of an athlete or have a child who is going on GAP this year you may have received the word about t-shirts. Or rather word of the lack thereof. ISKL loves its t-shirts. International Fest has one. Student Council has one. Peer helpers have theirs. They certainly serve their purpose. But it's not inconceivable to have students on several teams, clubs and organisations to purchase one for each, ensuring a wardrobe healthy with (non-organic, imported) cotton. Add to that the travel shirts and the uniforms and ISKL families are probably buying a whole lot of clothing, no?  

The HS Activities & Athletics programs have, for some years, shown their support of carbon offset programs for their flights (as seen in past articles). Now they are taking on the world of excessive t-shirts head on. Trying to minimize the pressures of excess t-shirt purchasing and use, they are asking students to buy one shirt - just one - for all teams and trips. In an email sent our on Wednesday, Rob Hutterd (Assistant HS AD) shared a video on the topic. I opened it, secretly delighted by the message. It noted in that video (which can be found at that making one t-shirt uses 2,700 liters of water. I don't know if that's accurate, but given that it's a National Geographic video I'm willing to at least accept that it might be in the ballpark. Then I got my elementary math mind to work and did some quick calculations. 

450 GAP participants. About 600 student athletes. Total: 1,050. Multiply that by 2,700 liters and you have a whopping 2,835,000 liters of water saved!  From one decision!  My sincere hope is that the water saved makes its way into the small towns and villages of Malaysia where potable water might not be as simple as turning on a faucet in Ampang or Mont Kiara. 

I am hoping that this initiative - though contentious for some - might allow us a glimpse into our own consumer choices. Maybe one day, walking in a mall, our children might say "wow, that's an awesome shirt", closely followed by "but it's not worth the environmental cost, and I already have one".  

Keep Celebrating green by learning to say "no" when it makes sense to do so. 

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