by Maddy Pauchet, International Robin Reporter, International School of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The International School of Amsterdam in the Netherlands encourages green development and does its best to limit its carbon-footprint, wastage and use of energy. This initiative would not be nearly as successful if it were not for the school's students. There is an active 'green-team' whose aim is to promote sources of energy alternative to fossil fuels and raise awareness on the impact of pollution. This year, the green-team held a trash audit. For a week, the team gathered every trash can around school (including the cafeteria!) and its dedicated members came during the weekend to sort through the entire school's garbage. They often made surprising discoveries - ceramic plates, books, hats and shoes. But none of these were as shocking as the huge quantities of food and plastic that were wasted. Towards the end of the audit, the green team volunteers sorted all the plastic bottles and weighed the amount - it was over 50kgs!
This realisation was stunning and the green-team hurried to counter it. Several trash cans intended solely for plastic bottles were installed all around the school. The school cafeteria also complied and now serves food and water in recyclable plates and goblets. Students took a moment to think before dumping their trash and many began bringing reusable bottles to school. At the end of the year, the green-team held another trash audit. It was able to determine that the quantity of plastic and food waste had seriously diminished. This was thanks, in great part, to the green-team, but also to the students' eager cooperation. It's not unusual to see people reminding each other to recycle their water bottles in the corridor or for teachers to keep a recycling box in their rooms for spare sheets of paper. It's the simple things that make a difference and each student's carbon footprint decreased one bottle at a time.