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  • Writer's pictureAlizee B

Start of the school year in GREEN: Enlightening teenagers into sustainability

Eight out of the top twenty solutions to the climate crisis are food related.

That is why we focus so much on these topics at Zero Waste Shanghai.

As we mentioned in our previous article (link), the future is in the hands of our children.

Confucius said it best :

“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand."

We started the school year with a bang already! The month of September was rich in raising awareness on Zero Waste and our other expertise: composting!

We met with a bunch of schools last September, but we’d like to share two experiences in particular:

Food Waste Awareness at Shanghai Community International School (SCIS)

Composting at Shanghai American School (SAS)

Before we start talking about composting, we need to understand what starts the process: food!

Food Waste Awareness at Shanghai Community International School (SCIS)

SCIS asked us to come and enlighten grade 8 on the topics of Globalization & Sustainability with a deep-dive into resources, food and the choices we can make to contribute to a greener future.

2 hour interactive seminar with 80 students at SCIS Hongqiao campus

With over 80 students in the room, we put together a highly interactive and thought-provoking scene that would facilitate the digestion of a highly complex industry and how our everyday choices can change our future.

The students analyzed the different food industries, the trends and how these impact food production & consumptions.

What are the environmental impacts?

The impact on human health?

What are the critiques?

Students at work during the Zero Waste seminar

With a new understanding of the food industry and its consequences, we leave schools and students with one question:

What are YOU going to do, as a school, as a student, as an individual

to contribute to saving the planet?

Are you going to order in less?

Are we banning single-use plastic at school?

Are we starting to compost?

Composting at Shanghai American School (SAS) as a part of science class

Our questions got to the ears over at the Shanghai American School, and we found ourselves with students from the science class on the Puxi Campus to discuss the set up of their first compost bin!

Up to 40% of landfill waste can be reduced through composting, however food scraps can be utilized into a more efficient and environmentally-friendly use. Compost is highly regarded by farmers and gardeners to provide natural fertilizer for plants. Besides that, composting has a tremendous impact on the environment on multiple facets.

Students at SAS Puxi Campus setting up a compost bin as part of a science class

The compost bin class was split in two sessions:

a theory session and then the practical session with the actual set-up of the bin.

The first session, we introduced the issues around food waste, discussed the different types of composting and the theory behind the practicalities of setting up a compost bin. In our second session we got our hands dirty and assembled the compost bin on campus!

Students at SAS Puxi Campus feeding the compost bin

The Humus Program: interactive tool to experiment with

The benefits of this program, the Humus Program, is that students get a hands-on, real life experiences of how to create value from food waste.

They have a visual and interactive tool to experiment with for other science projects such as testing new biodegradable materials, the life cycle of food to earth, and the natural habitat of worms and their fellow contributors of the decomposition process.

This project aims to reduce food waste, create a circular loop for the remaining debris, within the school facilities and serve as a visual and daily educational opportunity for every student in the school. The next natural step of this process is to create a garden in the school.

By introducing the Humus Project, we've seen food waste cut by half in only three months’ time, students being actively part of the waste reduction process and an overall rising awareness at school around waste and sustainability.

Our goal is to bring the concept of sustainability in an engaging and fun way to as many students as we possibly can. We do this through active participation, promote critical thinking and team exercises.

Are you a student? A teacher? A parent?

What is happening at your school when it comes to sustainability?

Besides our seminars, masterclasses and compost bin projects, we also run our Zero Waste School program that aims to work together with the school’s community to create, develop and implement sustainable practices in order to minimize the environmental impact of the institution.

Email us for more information or arrange a meeting!


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