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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Argyle Secondary School, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Argyle Secondary School, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

kfoster



Registered: December 2013
City/Town/Province: North Vancouver, BC
Posts: 1
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I am a first year student at the University of British Columbia, in the faculty of Land and Food Systems. In 2013, I chose to take on an Apprentice Ecologist project to implement composting at my high school in my grade 12 year. Even as a child I was aware and conscious of the environment. Throughout my senior high school year, I took on the challenge of raising awareness about environmental issues within my school community. When my family began composting our green waste at home, in 2010, I started to develop the idea of composting on a larger scale. Everyday at school I would notice the large amounts of compostable and recyclable material being thrown in to the garbage. As I entered grade 12 I joined the Environmental Club at my high school and proceeded to organize and conduct a waste audit to confirm my suspicions about the amount of compostable and recyclable materials being thrown in to the school garbage. Although I expected there would be a considerable amount of organic matter in the garbage, I was shocked to discover that, in one day, 52% of my high school’s garbage was compostable, and another 25% was recyclable. When organic material decomposes improperly (such as among garbage in landfills), methane is produced, which is a harmful green house gas; with composting programs in place, the proper decomposition of organic matter produces viable energy, and the production of methane is minimal. In addition, when recycling is in place, the result is less wasted consumer products and less need to make more of those consumer products. For example, aluminum cans are widely used for packaging beverages and are 100% recyclable, yet they are still being thrown in the garbage, which requires more cans to be produced. By implementing a compost disposal system and improving the current recycling program in my high school, well over half of the garbage originally produced would be diverted from the landfill.
I conducted my Apprentice Ecologist project at my high school, Argyle Secondary, in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Argyle Secondary is nestled against the local mountains of North Vancouver in an area called Lynn Valley. I grew up in North Vancouver, exploring the west coast temperate rainforest, and it was hard to believe that it was at the mercy of its citizens’ knowledge and practices around garbage disposal. Even though Lynn Valley does not have its own landfill, the garbage produced at my high school, and the other schools in the North Vancouver community, is dumped in the landfill in North Vancouver. By reducing the garbage produced in the schools in North Vancouver, there is a direct impact on the amount of garbage being dumped into the landfill in our community.
I felt that the staff and students at Argyle were unaware, and consequently unconcerned, about the environmental impact of throwing their compostable and recyclable waste in to the garbage. In 2013, I was striving to implement a compost program at Argyle to reduce the amount of waste produced by the school, but more importantly, to raise the awareness of staff and students about their waste disposal practice and the impact they have on the environment.
I began the project in January 2013, by building two wooden compost bins in the school garden. When the North Vancouver Board of Education learned about my project, they chose to assist me in my endeavor to improve waste reduction at Argyle Secondary. The Board of Education offered to sponsor my compost project, as a pilot project, for the North Vancouver school district; if the pilot project were successful the Board of Education would implement my compost program in all the high schools and elementary schools in the district. I developed plans for a school-wide organic waste collection and disposal system, and presented my ideas to the staff of Argyle Secondary. The staff embraced the idea of composting in the school and helped with the promotion of the project to the students. I enlisted the help of the woodshop teacher to build large waste sorting stations, which would replace all the garbage cans in high traffic eating areas (such as the cafeteria). By the end of the 2013 school year, the two compost bins in the school garden were in use, and the large waste sorting stations were in place.
While working on this project I learned that when I am relying on other people to achieve a goal of this magnitude, it is important to be patient. Trying to convince people to make decisions prematurely or expecting their timelines to align with mine without considerable discussion and frequent dialogue is a recipe for disaster. My deadline for this project turned out to be misaligned with that of the school and district administration, and although full implementation of this waste disposal initiative will be a long-term process that I will not be involved in, it has inspired me to continue to look for ways to raise awareness about the importance of composting and environmental sustainability regardless of the outcome.
As I move forward in my life and career, I intend to continue to feed my passion for the promotion of environmental awareness and sustainability through my education. Since beginning this Apprentice Ecologist project I have been inspired to change my educational path; I now intend to start in the Global Resource Systems program at UBC in my second year, and build my degree with a focus on environmental sustainability. When I began this composting project at my high school, my goal was to raise the awareness for thoughtful waste disposal practices amongst the staff and students at my high school, as well as, eventually, other schools in the district. Raising the awareness of environmental sustainability is very important because I believe people, especially children growing up in urban areas, tend to become removed from nature resulting in a lack of understanding about their waste disposal practices and the impact they have on the environment.
Date: December 31, 2013 Views: 5147 File size: 31.4kb : 240 x 320
Hours Volunteered: 100
Volunteers: 15
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 & 16 to 60
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Aman123

Registered: March 2015
City/Town/Province: Bmaiyan
Posts: 1
March 9, 2015 12:12am

We are proud of you sister...!
Well done
keep it up...!