Collingwood's Journey to Zero Waste

Collingwood Sustainability Council

Collingwood School
  • Entire School
Photo Essay (3–10 images)

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When we started the sustainability council, we only had one goal in mind. Create change conducive to a better, more sustainable school, no matter how small the change. However, sitting down at our first session together, we decided to dream big: move towards becoming a zero waste, net zero carbon emission school. At first we laughed at the prospect - was it even possible for a school our size to become zero waste? With the support of the incredible faculty and administration at Collingwood School, we are so proud to showcase all we have achieved. We have made so much progress; so much so that it’s impossible for us to fit all we have accomplished into 10 photos.

The main focus of this year is to initiate a comprehensive pilot waste education program where we introduce alternative waste channels to young students. We are targeting children in primary school, as we believe waste organization and reduction is a habit that should be nurtured from a tender age. This will be done in conjunction with grade 2 teacher Ms Nielsen.

A unique aspect of this program in the introduction of a portable, stackable worm bin in the classroom. The incorporation of worm bins the classroom waste stream is a very enriching and cyclical learning process. This program will teach children about the function of worms in the food ecosystem and how they can simultaneously reduce food waste and while creating rich compost for the school garden.

The cafeteria at our school also required a major revamp. One of the main problems that had inundated our school was the waste that the cafeteria created. Our eating situation at school is quite difficult as there isn’t one designated area large enough for all students to eat and drink, and thus waste channels are difficult to control and monitor. Through introducing the ‘Bring your own mug’ policy, ‘Compostable Lunchware’ and ‘Cafeteria Waste Organization’ programs, landfill waste in the cafeteria has been largely reduced.

On the topic of food: The creation of our school garden was an invigorating experience. Guided by experienced gardeners and Heads of Houses Ms Bremner and Ms Grivakis, a thriving vegetable garden came into fruition. The school cafeteria has also been fantastic in using our produce to create menu items for our students. Next year we hope to expand our range of production and create an environment that surrounding wildlife and pollinators can enjoy. The aviary and rainwater collection bins are also attractive points in our garden.

Collingwood has also participated in multiple community events that encouraged sustainability and environmental awareness. Students clamoured over school and home crafted goods and produce in our 2nd annual Farmers Market, and conscientious students participated in the Ambleside Park Shoreline Cleanup.

There is still so much to do. There are still so many steps left to take and so many more positive changes to run with and embrace. Until Collingwood truly becomes a net zero society, we still have a lot more road to travel, and we are proud to be the ones on that journey.

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