Green School students are in nature – loving, learning and protecting the world around them. Thinking globally and acting locally is the name of the game at Green School and students are supported to become environmental stewards. Here in Bali, that means taking action on the plastic waste problem. Students see the beauty of nature and learn the complexities of ecosystems. They also see the plastic waste that collects in our oceans, on the beach and in our rivers on the island. Rather than let themselves feel defeated by the problem, our students get creative in finding ways to reduce and reuse plastic.
Green School has led the way on real solutions to single-use plastic waste problems. Educating for the environment is a balance between experiencing the natural world and all its beauty, learning about the problems and activating real solutions. From simply loving nature to understanding the complexity of ecosystems, learning becomes a springboard for action.
Over 8 years ago, parents and students established an on-site waste management and recycling centre that supports both education on reducing waste and a free service to collect, recycle, upcycle and reuse waste that can have another life. Hundreds of tonnes of trash have been saved from landfills and waterways and this system has been replicated in over 25 other schools.
In honor of the global #PlasticFreeJuly movement, we’re showcasing some of the most creative ways our students are helping to solve the plastic problem in Bali.
Children are the most creative humans on our planet. Their ability to devise creative solutions is a beacon of hope in the ocean of plastic waste problems. Let’s start with shining a light on student projects that are all about reducing plastic waste.
As part of his “Footprints” – a Grade 5 capstone project – our young changemaker Kurt created a simple bamboo barrier to catch plastic in Bali’s rivers and prevent it from flowing into the ocean.
Middle School student, Gede, recently campaigned for the warungs in Bali to replace the plastic straws served with drinks along the beach with a compostable bamboo variety. His project was featured in the opening of our panel on educating for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
And Hazel, a grade 10 student, launched his “Underwater Waste Clean-up” project for his Middle School capstone project, or “Quest,” project. Utilising Green School’s recycling and waste education center, Kembali, Hazel turned recyclable plastic into surfboard fins and made surf boards out of bottle caps. Through his project, he has been able to recycle more than 40 kilos of plastic already and continuing to make an impact to reduce plastic pollution in oceans.
Our students, faculty and staff members also participate in regular “Trash Walks” around the island, collecting trash from the natural environment to help keep Bali beautiful. These Trash Walks are also one of the activities our faculty members experience during their on-boarding into the Green School family.
Reducing plastic waste is central to solving the problems – particularly single-use plastics. Reusing, recycling and upcycling can also play a role with particular plastics. From new, practical and beautiful products to plastic as fuel, students are taking matters into their own hands.
Haiko, a member of our 2021 graduating class, was part of a Green School community project where our faculty members, students and people from the local community all came together to end the plastic problem in their village. This will be done through a Pyrolysis machine that turns plastic waste into fuel. You can learn more about this incredible project via this video.
Another fifth grader, Sebastian, decided to use plastic bottle caps collected from the beaches of Bali and turn them into beautiful, multi-colored surfboards.
And yet another student, Nindi, used discarded plastic to create adorable keychains in the form of fish.
In the long-run, the solution to the larger problem of plastic waste will require humans to significantly reduce our reliance on plastic packaging, especially single use plastic. However, in the meantime, creative projects like those our students tackle at Green School can help reduce the amount of plastic in our environment while demonstrating how kids of all ages can have a positive impact on the planet.