We don't take plastic!

By Stuart Lancaster 2019-04-29 14:46:46

Dulwich Puxi channel eco concerns into positive, student-led action

For a young community, Dulwich College Puxi students have an incredibly influential and persuasive voice, leading the challenge on SAYING NO TO PLASTIC, which is the number one environmental concern for students, followed closely by reducing the amount of waste we produce as a society, and animal protection.

“Since kindergarten we have been taught to be active recyclers. We are learning about renewable power alternatives and we are well informed about the effects of pollution on our planet. We know more about climate change than any other generation before us. And we have strong views on what we want and need for our planet. There is no Planet B,” says Hattie, senior school student and one of the College’s sustainability student leaders.

Over the past 12 months Dulwich Puxi students have achieved amazing success in their commitment to removing single use plastic, and reducing the amount on waste produced at the College campus. They have banned single use yoghurt tubs – effectively removing more than 31,350 single-serve plastic yoghurt tubs from the college waste stream. Large volume yoghurt is purchased and served each day in ceramic pots, instead of single plastic tubs.

They have also banned all plastic straws, take-away coffee cups and plastic lids. All beverages are served in ceramic cups and visitors to the College are reminded to bring their own water bottles to refill as required. Again, literally tens of thousands of single use plastic items have been removed from the waste stream.

Senior School students, Isabel and Jemima recently created PIANO; Plastic is a New Opportunity - a brilliant platform which aims to take single use plastic waste like water bottles and plastic bags, melt them down and reform them into multiple use items like cups and stationary holders using the College’s 3D printers. Their idea was developed for the Dulwich Pioneering Spirit Award – a global competition worth 300,000 RMB to senior school students who can demonstrate the ideation, development and execution of their own sustainable business initiative, which can benefit the environment. Jay, Curtis and Yap were this year’s youngest ever winners of the global Pioneering Spirit Grant with their business idea called Farmbot – a robot which manages all aspects of community farming – from seeding, to watering, to harvesting. The Farmbot is being built on campus and will be in operation later this year. Produce grown by Farmbot will be served in the College restaurants demonstrating students’ attempts to achieve a more sustainable existence.

Students across the College learn and understand the need for a more sustainable existence; in the kindergarten food scraps are fed to the worm farms, which in turn feed the College gardens. Further up the College, senior students are engaging in aquaponics to further supply nutrients to the College gardens. They have also started Hydroponics as a way of growing small plants, ie basil, using water instead of soil. This saves space and the herbs can be used in their weekly cooking classes. They also manage a solar powered rain harvesting system where water is collected into a tank and when full, is automatically used to water the plant beds. This is powered by the solar panels, which are also attached to battery store.

The students have their eyes set on future goals too, which include Meat Free Mondays. They calculated that just 1 meat based meal a day at school for 38 weeks of the year creates 78.29 tons of CO2 per year. To combat the effect of this, we would need to plant 390 trees! Meat Free Mondays are a way of reducing our carbon footprint by 15.66tons of CO2. It is in the pipeline and certainly something they are working towards. They are also working on compost bins for the main restaurant to ensure that more food waste is harnessed for nutritious fuel for the gardens, to encourage more green growth.

Dulwich College Puxi students are active advocates for sustainability and environmental protection. On 17 – 19 May, they will welcome 100 students from other Dulwich campuses for a 3 day action-packed Eco Camp featuring practical and innovative workshops, student-led activities and inspirational speakers to fuel their fight to a greener future.

For more information about student activities and initiatives, please contact our dynamite leader on sustainability, Miss Grace Stewart at Dulwich College Puxi.