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Students lead the zero waste revolution

A few weeks ago, high school students at Windermere Secondary School helped Be The Change Earth Alliance launch a series of zero waste workshops that between now and June will engage thousands of students to think critically on their food consumption patterns, waste behaviours, and buying habits. This City of Vancouver funded project is one of many action oriented initiatives engaging the general public in sustainability behaviour change.

Over the next few months’ students will take and record measurable zero waste actions in the hopes of reducing their individual, home, and school Waste Footprints. This approach to climate change mitigation addresses the ongoing challenge faced by cities in engaging citizens on the impact their behaviours have on the climate.  

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Workshop connects local zero waste initiatives to climate change and supports the 'greening' of Vancouver schools. It explores the issue of waste in detail, introducing students to waste-related topics such as recycling, disposables, Vancouver's litter problem, and over-consumption. Students are invited to explore waste-related topics and to take personal actions and give short presentations to their fellow students about potential actions and solutions to the waste problem.

“Students are eager to learn. We share the belief with the City of Vancouver that youth will hold the largest burden of climate change and should therefore be engaged in the solution,” says Erin Leckie, BTCEA’s Executive Director. BTCEA has been delivering action oriented education on sustainability issues to students since 2011.

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Greenest Schools = Greenest City

Vancouver residents have an ecological footprint three times larger than the global average. In 2011, the city announced its goal to reduce its Ecological Footprint by 33% below 2006 levels by 2020 and achieve one-planet living by 2050. The Vancouver School Board is putting forward a renewed vision for district sustainability and student leadership will be a big success factor, says the VSB’s Sustainability Coordinator, Ashley Bangsund. “We are doubling down on our commitment to help the city get to the goal of zero waste/zero carbon by 2020 by engaging as many students as possible.”

Between 2010 and 2015, BTCEA has engaged 17,000 students in sustainability education. We believe our overall Environmental Footprint is getting significantly smaller each time we educate a student on their role in creating a shift towards a sustainable culture.

Moving Past The Bin

Vancouver is taking steps to improve its Ecological Footprint, which means getting youth on side. Students are really an untapped resource for sustainability performance improvements says Jen Holden, BTCEA’s Communications and Development Coordinator. “Children and youth have a significant influence on the patterns of their parents. From what food is bought to how waste is handled. When students ask their parents to change things for the betterment of the planet, the odds are, they listen.” This makes it easier for the City of Vancouver to engage more with less.

Youth empowerment can be very vulnerable, frustration can often lead student back to apathy, which is why teacher support and encouragement are key to motivating them towards sustained action. “Students are feeling more frustrated by the actions of their peers when they chose to place waste in the wrong bins,” reflects Petra Rempel, science teacher at Windemere. 

Despite this, students are consuming more consciously – waiting to purchase items and asking whether they need something or merely want it.  “Students are even considering packaging when making purchases and discussing with their families on how to produce less waste.” 

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Donate to our Seeds of Change Campaign!

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Voices of our Community - Extended

Being our last longer stories for our Community for Change Campaign, we want the voices of our community, contributors, and benefactors to reflect who we are and what we do. So we asked a couple community members to ‘chime in’ and let us know the role we have played in their experiences and also the role they have played in BTCEA’s work.  

Here are a couple responses, the longer less refined raw answers…

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Voices of our Community

If you haven’t already contributed, there’s just two days left to be part of our Community for Change Campaign!

In four weeks we’ve raised just over $15,000 of our $25,000 goalSo far eighty people of our 100 person goal have contributed

Will you donate and help us reach our target? We need your help to continue this amazing work! Canadian tax receipts are issued for all donations over $10.

What work, you ask? And why?

We asked a few community members to chime in and let us know what BTCEA means to them.

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Give Active Hope to Young People

Could you use some ‘active hope’?

Young people today need this particular kind of hope— and in this season of generosity, you can get it by giving it.

What is active hope? 

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Are you a BC French Teacher?

Are you a BC certified French speaking teacher who cares deeply about environmental sustainability?

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Join BTCEA's own star Suzanne in our Community for Change!

You’ve heard from Simon, one of our many empowered students and from Fiona, one of our many inspired teachers. Today we’d like to take you backstage to hear about one of our amazing volunteers, environmental biologist Suzanne Barois.

Charitable endeavours like Be The Change Earth Alliance could never exist without the generous support of other concerned citizens like Suzanne (and you!) who share our passion for positive change. We welcome you to pledge support by joining our Community of Change.

 

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Support teachers like Fiona!

How do we create social values of global sustainability? One very effective way is through education that empowers behaviour change.

Fiona Buchanan is a passionate young teacher who discovered our SLS: Student Leadership in Sustainability curriculum materials by attending a professional development workshop we facilitated. Fiona brought SLS to her Planning 10 and Leadership 11 course; she and her students simply loved the experience:

"The most important observation I made from the overall experience was the empowerment the students felt after finishing the projects. Because the students were required to take actions and because the actions were “doable” students had a felt experience of actually making a difference. The students commented several times on how surprised they were at the impact the small actions made in their own lives and in the lives of their family, friends, neighbourhood, and community."

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Please support Be the Change in our Community for Change campaign!

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In grade 8, Burnaby South Secondary student Simon Lin dreamt up his own food scraps diversion program:  he walked the halls with a sandwich board and a bin and asked students to fork over their food waste. Last year in grade 12 and with Be The Change’s support, he led a team of 20 students to help the Burnaby School District successfully implement their food scraps composting program at Burnaby South.

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You are my Community for Change

Hello friends, 

Well, this is a new experience for me, sharing a blog with my extended community. Thanks for tuning in! 

As you probably know I’m totally devoted to my work as the Creative Director of Be The Change Earth Alliance (BTCEA). This small but dedicated non-profit has accomplished so much over the years, thanks to all the support of dedicated staff, volunteers, teachers, students, parents… all the widening circles of people who care about shifting our unsustainable world view, and know how powerful it is to work with our youth in this endeavour. I’m hoping you may be interested in supporting our mission and passing this message on to others that may be interested in supporting our good work. 

 

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What BTCEA does… Our grassroots work for global sustainability focuses on education that empowers youth to make sustainable choices and become informed critical thinking citizens. We do this by creating curriculum that teachers can use in the classroom to inform on the global challenges, connect students to how they are a part of these issues and empower them with ways to take actions that support local solutions. I love the way our student Action Packs has the youth engage their families to create more sustainable practices in their homes. This is truly education in action…global mind shift one family at a time.

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