Fawn Ngo’s Story

“Be The Change Earth Alliance introduced us to the zero waste program […] We learned to properly recycle, compost, and throw away our garbage wisely, so that very little goes into the landfill […] with the resources provided by BTCEA, we are inspired to keep the project going in the following year”

Gladstone Secondary is an urban school with just a little over 1000 students from grades 8-12. Our staff and students have addressed that they were concerned about the issues around student’s diet and well being, as well as issues around climate. Before we even began to tackle issues around climate change, I felt that we needed to look into our student’s health and well-being and make sure they understand that when they can take care of themselves first, the care for the planet will follow.

Due to the socioeconomic demographic of the school, located in East Vancouver, Gladstone has very little funding and support for extra programs, so any help we get from the Parent Association Committee (PAC) and the Vancouver School Board we invest in our local educators. When I approached Be The Change Earth Alliance (BTCEA) in hopes for some resources, they led our school to the grant from Healthy schools giving us various opportunities to connect with BTCEA. Through the Zero Waste Program our school was provided with tools to learn how to produce zero waste (if possible). We learned to properly recycle, compost, and throw away our garbage properly so that very little goes into the landfill. We learned through rummaging and counting the different garbage, recycling, and composting bins that our school did not actually know how to separate our wastes. We learned that most staff and students had a difficult time with the Zero Waste Program. “It was confusing,” people claimed, “to have too many bins to think about”.

BTCEA helped our school realize that perhaps it was not an easy task to throw out our wastes when we are unclear about what items should go where. We learned that in order to help our students learn how to separate their garbage properly; we better start with the adults. It would make a huge difference if we were all clear on the many different products and how they should be recycled

BTCEA demonstrated that it took many different steps in order for the Zero Waste Program to be successful. In our school’s case, even though we did not have the most positive results when it came to producing zero waste, our learning curve sky rocketed. Our students learned that there was a lot more to just throwing out garbage. They learned to be more responsible for their actions. If they make a right decision every time they throw something out, it is positive energy that they are putting back to earth and to the environment. Our returning students are willing to continue educating the school about responsible waste production. They are also hoping to look beyond our local community, and perhaps more globally. How do other countries reduce, reuse, and recycle?

Even though learning that our school was not the most educated when it came to producing zero waste, we were able to recognize that what we to work towards was attainable and that with the resources provided by BTCEA, we are inspired to keep the project going in the following year.


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