- Grade 7
Would you like to upload a supporting PDF?:
How we got support from our Mayor to put bins by our school forest
When we came back to school in September we noticed there was a lot of garbage in our forest where we like to play outdoor games. Many classes picked up garbage to help make our forest a little cleaner. However, we noticed that even once it was cleaned, more kept getting dumped in there!
Our Sustainability Exploratory class mapped, counted and weighed the different types of litter we picked up two different times. We found a lot of garbage near the public area but the second time we did this we found nearly all the garbage was closer to the school.
Our custodian came to our class to answer questions and we realized there were no garbage or recycling bins near the forest and picking up litter is not her job. We thought if there was a place to put waste maybe people wouldn’t throw it in the forest when they walk on the Shoreline Trail, which is managed by our town.
Rebecca and Bethany went and made a presentation to the Mayor of View Royal, David Screech, and asked for help to put in bins. He gave us his support and now we are working on installing these bins.
But what if the litter is coming from students who don’t care or know better?
To find out if students and staff are dealing with our waste properly, we took all the garbage, recycling and compost in the school from 24 hours and dumped it onto tarps. We then weighed the amounts of each and looked through to see if there was anything that didn't belong. We found that a lot of people were putting unopened yogurt containers into the recycling, compost and garbage bins. This is a problem because yogurt is not recyclable, the containers are not compostable, and neither should go in the garbage. If there was too many then all the recycling and compost could get thrown out because of a few yogurt containers.
To increase awareness and stewardship action, Shoreline students created memes to print as signs to encourage everyone to avoid littering on our school grounds (which is right beside the ocean) and sending recyclables, returnables & compost to the landfill.
However, this was not enough. When we removed litter from the forest, we found tons of invasive plants taking over the native plants in the forest! So our Sustainability Exploratory classes started going outside once a week to remove bags and bags of Himalayan blackberry, English Ivy, Scotch broom and Daphne-laurel (which causes rashes)! We then planted native plants along the edge of the forest as well as we created a new Camas garden overlooking the field on top of a hill, beside our school forest. At the start of the year students went out and planted 17 native species including Camas flowers.
Camas is a beautiful and important plant to our First Nations community because the bulb is a very healthy, tasty source of food that has been cultivated and enjoyed for thousands of years. We have been learning the Indigenous names and uses of local native plants such as Camas, Cedar, and Oregon Grape. Camas Meadows are a very important part of the Garry oak ecosystem which has become rare in our region since colonization.
All of these projects have been helping us become stewards of our local ecosystem, which we have been learning more about as we go. We have learned about the native medicinal and edible plants in the Shoreline Forest. For example, did you know that rosehips from wild roses can be used in tea and medicines, and can provide a lot of vitamin C? Snowberries are poisonous to eat but when made into a poultice can be used to treat burns and minor injuries. Salal berries contain many nutrients and can make good fruit leather. Red Huckleberry has a high quantity of vitamin C and can boost your immune system. Oregon Grape berries taste bitter to some people but they are edible and medicinal. Fiddleheads from some kinds of ferns are edible if they are cooked properly, and Trailing Blackberry is a native type of blackberry that is edible. All of these plants can be found in the Shoreline forest, and many of them are thriving thanks to our invasive plant removal, waste diversion and litter pick-up projects.