Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Snippets of an ever-growing Sustainable Culture

Years ago, when the Environmental Coordinator (now Sustainability & Service Learning Coordinator) position was created one of it's key responsibilities was the "development of a 'green' ethos". For those who have ever studied change it is often argued that people's mindsets are the hardest thing to change and so a job responsibility like that was, and continues to be, a tall order. 

One way to determine whether ethos is being built rather than rules being instituted is to look at those things that happen naturally, from a bottom-up. These are not things that are required or forced. They are glimpses into the slow growth of a sustainable mindset on our campuses. Here are a few snippets:
  • The creation of waste-free Fridays and waste free parties at Melawati
  • The commonplace sharing of information in PTA newsletters about how to be "green" in a variety of events
  • An International Fest that is free of non-biodegradable single-use items, offers bussing for participants and includes a number of "green" stalls and events
  • A Panther Hut trying out sales of new shopping bags recycled from our very own school banners
  • Students on both campuses extensively using their reusable water bottles
  • Vendors increasing in the use of juice dispensers in lieu of plastic bottled drinks (and thus reducing waste)
  • Student projects aimed at reducing paper use (Green Council), food waste (Global Issues, Local Solutions course), trash in the ocean (G6 service learning) among others
  • Increased use of timers by the Melawati maintenance department to ensure reduction in non-essential use of energy
  • The cleaning companies are consistently adapting their behaviors (use of water, use of cleaning agents, etc.) 
  • Parents involved in addressing the issue of school uniforms (when families move on or children outgrow them)
  • The establishment of the first (and hopefully regular) Grade 7 Conference on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development
  • HS students initiating a Global Issues club (and others with social and sustainable foci)
  • Student articles and public service announcements on issues from the haze to the caterpillars on our campuses to use of energy, water and the like
Each one of these (and the many more not mentioned) would probably not be defined as evidence of a changing "ethos", but once combined there is little room for doubt. It's the evidence of caring, empowerment, purpose and global citizenship that defines this school's culture. Though there is still a long way to go, the changes are obvious. It feels like the beginning of a wave of change for a better world. It's a good feeling, no?

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