Grand Erie District School Board is encouraging all of its schools to take part in Waste Reduction Week from October 21-27 in an effort to raise awareness of how much waste is produced in a typical day, and to empower students to take leadership roles in finding solutions to the growing worldwide problem.
“When we talk about the three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – the first R is really crucial,” says Katie Hashimoto, Grand Erie’s Supervisor of Energy and Environmental Conservation, who is spearheading the effort and providing tangible exercises students at all grade levels can engage in. “If you do an effective job at waste reduction, you’re not going to need to rely on the other two Rs as much, so reducing waste should be the first goal.”
Waste Reduction Week is a Canada-wide program celebrating environmental efforts and achievements while encouraging new innovative ideas and solutions. Each day of the week is themed around a specific aspect of waste reduction, and provides actionable strategies students can take at school, at home, and in their communities.
Resources are being provided to each school. Ideas to get students thinking more consciously about environmental issues and taking small but effective steps to begin working toward solutions include packing litterless lunches, performing recycling and waste audits within their schools, and eliminating single-use plastic water bottles in favour of reusable bottles.
“Young people realize that they can be the generation that shifts priorities around environmental issues,” says Hashimoto. “Initiatives like this help build leadership skills in our students, and continue the momentum towards a greener future for all of us.”
Grand Erie has made Environment a pillar of its Multi-Year Plan, with a commitment to improving energy and environmental conservation at all sites. A majority of Grand Erie schools have an Eco Lead, a staff person who volunteers with students to engage in sustainability initiatives, environmental management programs, and waste reduction efforts at the school level.