Climate change is a stark reality and the usual thinking by those who stop to consider the state of the environment is, “What sort of planet will our kids and grand-kids inherit?” With this in mind, encouraging an energy-saving attitude in today’s South African youth should be at the heart of every school system and syllabus.
If the youth become the ambassadors for an environmentally focused way of living, then we just might have a chance. So just what are some examples of initiatives that schools and their learners can adopt in order to fight the good fight and become green warriors?
1.Water is life
According to a report issued by the World Resource Institute, South Africans have less than 100 cubic meters of accessible, fresh water per person. This makes the the country the 30th most water scarce country in the world. Our average rainfall is only 500mm/year, while the global average is almost double this at 860mm/year. Rural municipalities currently have a water loss of 72.5%, while metropolitan municipalities are sitting at 36% or 480.9 gigalitres. This loss is a result of broken or leaky pipes.
What this essentially means is that every drop of water in this land is vital. One of the easiest ways for schools to implement an energy saving attitude amongst their learners is to firstly focus on the school’s taps and ensure that they’re leak free; then to encourage the kids to the do the same in their homes and communities. Every drop counts, both literally and monetarily. The leaking taps will mean that a school’s water bill will be far higher than necessary and these squandered funds could have far more impactful uses.
2.Switch it off
Encouraging learners to begin to develop an attitude of becoming aware of switching off lights when a room is not in use, develops in them a first-hand awareness of energy usage. This energy-saving technique is all the more pressing in a country like ours where our primary energy source is still coal-driven power stations that are overworked and are struggling to deliver the required wattage.
The rising costs of electricity are also putting a severe strain not only on many households, but obviously on schools themselves. So it’s not that it makes sense to encourage the learners to switch off unnecessary lights, but it actually makes cents!
3.The 3 R’s
No, these aren’t the old-school ones of reading, writing and arithmetic. Nowadays, modern learners need to incorporate a whole other set of learning skills. These are reduce, reuse, recycle.
The first and most obvious in the school situation is the use of paper. So much of this can be reduced through proper awareness training. For example, systems such as recycling bins could be introduced into each and every class. Many municipalities actually have buy-back schemes at the local recycling depot which creates an immediate monetary return for energy saving, green schools.
Getting the kids to create art clubs whereby they specialise in art from recycled materials which can be marketed and sold, not only encourages waste management sensibilities, but also builds entrepreneurship skills. Up-cycling (the creative reuse of waste products) is taking the world by storm – shouldn’t our children be right up there with world trends?
4.An attitude adjustment
An attitude of making the most of — and preserving — resources will help our children to build a better future. As consumers, they will come to value those products that impact the environment the least. The opportunities presented by a marketplace calling for environmentally friendly choices will encourage manufacturers to produce recycled items.
Educators and parents can lead the way by drawing children’s awareness to everyday products that are mindful of the environment. At ISOTHERM, for example, our Thermal Insulation is made from the thermally-bonded polyester of recycled plastic PET bottles. It is completely environmentally friendly, non-allergenic and resilient. It can be used to insulate roofs, walls, geysers and hot water pipes.
It’s no secret that schools in the country are suffering due to lack of funding, poor infrastructure and lack of equipment. It therefore makes a whole deal of sense to encourage all schools to begin to adopt a green, energy-saving outlook. Not only does this instill in the mindset of our future generations the importance of being green, but it also becomes a remarkable way of increasing available funds. These can be utilised to improve student-learning experiences, reduce health and operational costs, and thereby improve the overall quality of education.