Wednesday 16 April 2014

"We are Eco Mean but Global Green" Student Action for a Sustainable Future

The hall at the Western Development Museum was packed with students and displays on April 15, 2014. But this was no ordinary science fair as each display represented a concrete action project the students had researched and carried out to protect the environment.

Student Action for a Sustainable Future is a pilot program involving 12 classes from grades 4 to 8 from both the Public and Catholic school systems. Each class chose to work on a project related to water, waste, food, transportation, and/or energy.

The grade 8 students at Ecole Alvin Buckwold School focused on reducing greenhouse gases. They put timers in 13 classrooms to automatically switch off the computers when they weren’t in use and, with financial assistance from EcoFriendly Sask, are purchasing light sensors to turn off lights in hallways and other areas with heavy traffic when they aren’t needed.

The grade 6/7 students at Bishop Pocock School focused on waste reduction. They sent a letter home to parents asking them to replace plastic baggies with Tupperware containers when packing their children’s lunches. The students will be helping Plastic Smart Saskatoon remove litter from the riverbank this spring.

Bishop Pocock students also realized that hot lunches from Boston Pizza created a tremendous amount of waste as the single-serving pizzas and salads were all wrapped individually. They switched to large pizzas and big bowls of salad and asked students to bring their own cutlery. They also wrote a letter to Boston Pizza expressing their concerns.*

The grade 6 students at Ecole Cardinal Leger School reduced energy consumption by turning down the heat on Sweater Day and by turning out lights at recess. The whole school was involved, and there were several educational events to explain why they were taking these actions.

The grade 7/8 students at St. Volodymyr School tried to attract more wildlife to their schoolyard by installing bird feeders. They plan to plant berry bushes in the spring.

The students at St. Marguerite School conducted a waste audit before and after offering an education program. As a result of their efforts, the school will be starting an Enviro Club next year.

The Student Action for a Sustainable Future pilot project was coordinated by the City of Saskatoon in partnership with Saskatoon Public Schools, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, Saskatchewan Environmental Society, Sustainability Education Research Institute (University of Saskatchewan), Saskatoon Light & Power, and various educational consultants.

Student Action for a Sustainable Future has been awarded the 2013 Saskatchewan Waste Minimization Award for the Youth/Schools category.

* Last year the Grade 8X class at Dr. J.G. Egnatoff School purchased a classroom set of plates and utensils along with pots and pans so that they could make healthy, waste-free lunches.