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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

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Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain
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Registered: September 2018
City/Town/Province: Boadilla del Monte, Madrid
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The Alhambra is a marvelous Moorish palace located in the south of Spain. Being it one of our most visited monuments, this enchanted place fascinates all its visitors with its intricate mosaics, beautiful tiles… and abundant fountains. It is said in our popular culture that, back then, when the first African peoples arrived in the peninsula, what truly won their hearts wasn’t Hispania’s strategic position, but its abundance of water. That is the reason why their poems are filled with images of resounding rivers, lakes and seas and why the Alhambra has a fountain in almost every corner.

Since then, water hasn’t done anything but become more relevant for this country every year. Today agriculture represents more than 10% of our gross domestic product and it requires almost 70% of all our sweet water. This fact wouldn’t be so worrying if it wasn’t for the next headline: “Spain, one of the countries expected to be most affected by climate change in the following decades in the European Union.” The truth is, we are running out of water. Every year is hotter than the previous one, every year the drought intensifies and the number of fires rises. It almost looks like the Sahara desert is staring at Spain as if it was waiting for us to get distracted so that it can jump this 30km-straight that separates our rivers from its sand.

This is the context in which I grew up so I guess I became an ecologist out of need. I developed a very deep empathy for the environment and at the age of 8 I realized I had to do something, anything, so that, at least, I could feel I was helping. That’s why, a couple years later, I became a student representative in the Green Assembly of my school. That was my first contact with environmental activism.

One year ago, I got into a state school in Madrid considered one of the biggest ones with almost 2500 students. One day, a couple friends and I stayed late and saw a cleaning lady taking all the rubbish she found and putting it all together in the same bag. It was then when we realized that, although the Spanish state provides us with different containers to recycle, any public school counts with the facilities to do it. We were in a massive educative center where tons of trash were being generated every day and nobody was doing anything about it.

We developed a project in which we would create trash cans out of cardboard boxes decorated with different materials depending on the kind of waste meant to be thrown there and we began using in one of the school’s buildings. As it wasn’t the cleaning workers’ responsibility to clean this bins, my friends and I did it every week in our free time. However, this concept of the project wasn’t sustainable as we wanted to expand it to the whole school and we weren’t enough people plus, we were having many complains about bad smells and usage of the new containers. Besides, we were eventually going to graduate and we wanted the recycling project to be our legacy for the school, we wanted it to last forever.

We decided to “upgrade” the project. We asked the main recycling company in the country (Ecoembes) to give us some “professional” containers easier to use and clean. We also educated students on how to correctly recycle and, finally, what I’m most proud of, we designed a sustainable way to always count with volunteers to empty the bins through the school’s ecology club.

Today, my school, IES Ramiro de Maeztu, is one of the very few schools in the continent that recycles and, what makes it unique, is that the whole process has been, is and will be fully coordinated and regulated by students that is also crucial to create a conscience among young people about the environment and how to take care of it.

We haven’t solved Spain’s water-scarcity issue yet and we will most probably still need many more years to do it but, being able to put in practice something like this recycling project, has made me aware of the power of action we have. Maybe I can’t solve my country’s problems, but I was able to do it in my school and, maybe, I will be able to do it in my town and, who knows, maybe someday, I will be able to hold the Sahara on the other side of the Mediterranean.
· Date: September 24, 2018 · Views: 304 · File size: 15.6kb, 2572.4kb · : 4160 x 3120 ·
Hours Volunteered: 155
Volunteers: 5
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16 to 17
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