Eco Voice at Regents International School Pattaya
Posted: 23 November 2020
- Problem solving
- Sense of responsibility
- Commitment to sustainability
At Regents we recognise the impacts of climate change and the importance of respecting our environment. The Regents Eco-Committee are a group of staff, parents and students from all year groups who share a common passion: saving the environment.
Under the Spirit of Environmentalism, learning to care for our planet is something we all feed very passionate about at Regents. Our Eco-Committee was first established in 2005 and has now been responsible for many projects both around the school and in our community to raise awareness, encourage more sustainable behaviour and to show us all how we can help to care more for our environment. The Eco Committee meet once a week to discuss ways in which they can help Regents become a more environmentally-friendly school and are proud to have been awarded the Silver Award by the Eco-Schools Programme.
Students have taken on a key leadership role within the school to spear-head numerous sustainable projects including: forming an eco-committee, carry out an environmental review, make an action plan, monitor and evaluate and link to the curriculum.
As a starting point, the Eco-Committee decided to produce an eco-code: a special mission statement that demonstrates Regent’s commitment to becoming a greener, more environmentally-friendly place with goals to more towards. As a team, the students came up with the below eco-pledges to:
- Significantly reduce paper use;
- Ban of single use plastics;
- Removal of all plastic straws;
- Bus drivers turn off engines when parked;
- Promote and encourage effective recycling;
- Air cons and lights turned off when leaving rooms;
- Meatless Monday;
- Car share scheme for staff;
- War on food waste;
- Go for Gold – Green Flag;
- WWF Bamboo products to replace plastic;
- Design an eco-Regents bag;
- Use of Apps for communication;
- Cut down on laminating;
- No plastic bags;
- Online reporting;
- Upgrade to Tuck Shop area to be the hub of “Eco messaging”;
- Ban balloons;
- Support the beach clean-up days;
- Creation of an Eco Garden;
- Save water;
- Solar or wind power generation;
- Plant more trees;
- Collect rain water to re-use; and
- Use environmentally friendly products for cleaning.
It is all students’, teachers’ and other staff members’ responsibility to reduce the amount of electricity that the school uses and to avoid using electricity unnecessarily.
This is achieved by ensuring that:
- Lights are turned off when a room is not in use.
- Other electrical devices, such as projectors, are turned off when not in use.
- Air conditioners are set at minimum room temperature of 24 °C.
- Windows and doors to classrooms and corridors are kept closed when air conditioners are in use.
- Eco-monitors will be assigned duties to ensure that these rules are followed and have created posters in their after-school club to encourage mindful energy use
It is all students’, teachers’ and other staff members’ responsibility to reduce the amount of waste created at Regents.
No Single Use Plastics: At Regents we aspire to phase-out the sale of all single-use plastics. This will start with school cafe replacing plastic straws with paper straws. We will continue to research and work with the cafe to introduce further sorts of biodegradable packaging, including food boxes and cups etc.
Students are encouraged to bring their own reusable cups and bottles to school to drink from. Students can refill their water bottles at the water stations around school or drink from the reusable cups provided.
Regents provide reusable eco-cups and bottles for students, parents and teachers to buy or they can bring their own. On International Day, the Eco Committee sold 93 eco-cups designed by a student in Year 12. The cups are available to buy from the uniform shop and for using this cup, we offer a 5 THB discount every time you buy a drink.
There are rinsing stations for students to clean their cups and bottles and the student eco-committee have made posters and videos to show how to use the rinsing station.
Recycling Bins: It is all students’, teachers’ and other staff members’ responsibility to promote recycling at Regents.
Colour coded recycling bins; paper (green), plastic (blue) and carton (yellow), are distributed around school.
Plastic (blue) and carton (yellow) recycling bins are distributed around the tuck shop area. Students must discard their waste into the appropriate bin. Plastic, cartons and paper should not go into the general waste bins. Misuse of the school bins warrants levelled sanctions.
Eco-monitors monitor the use of the recycling bins.
Paper Recycling: Every room has a green paper-recycling bin and a reusable paper tray. Paper that has only been used on one side should go into the reusable paper tray. This should then be used again in lessons or to photocopy onto.
Waste paper that is used on both sides should be put in the green paper-recycling bins.
Eco-monitors empty the recycling bins in classes and offices etc. and put the waste paper in the big green recycling bins.
Reusing Whiteboard Pens: All classrooms are provided with used-whiteboard-pen-pots to put empty whiteboard pens into. Eco-monitors then refill the pens with ink.
Reusing Resources: Students are not given a bag of workbooks at the beginning of the year. Instead, their class teachers give them new books as and when they need them.
Student are also expected to continue using the same subject workbook from the end of one academic year through into the next. Students will only be given new workbooks when their current book is full.
The resources department have developed a centralised reusable resources area where used but not redundant resources (books, stationary, folders etc.) can be collected, stored and redistributes. Reusable resources are collected and redistributed throughout the year. Additionally, collected at the end of the year to be redistributed at the beginning of the following year.
Environmental issues and awareness is covered in topic of subjects such as Science and Geography, as well as in Growing Minds.
We celebrate Eco Day every year in March or April, close to Earth Day (22nd March). This years theme was ‘Sustainable Living’ and the Eco-Committee students led workshops on this day to empower our student body about making small changes to create a lifestyle that is realistically sustainable for all individuals.
Two Eco-monitors are elected from every class or form at the beginning of the academic year to take on a special leadership role within the school to be responsible for:
- Monitoring electricity usage: lights, projectors, air-con units etc.
- Emptying the paper recycling bins
- Monitoring the use of the plastic and carton recycling bins
- Refilling whiteboard pen ink
- Helping with the refill station shop
This initiative has empowered our students to lead change within our school and have a positive impact in their wider community. The programme encourages students of all ages and abilities to work together to develop their knowledge, environmental awareness and commitment to sustainability. It has allowed them to develop a sense of responsbility for their school and the impact they are having on the earth as a whole. They have stepped up to become problem-solvers; learning to identify issues and work together to resolve them.
We are pleased to announce that Regents has been awarded the Silver Award by the Eco-Schools Programme. The assessors had a positive experience visiting our school and have commended us on the work that our students, staff members and parents have done to help the environment.
Advice for another school would be to bring together students, parents and teachers to follow the Green Flag School award process. It works as a community. We have students from each year group with parents and teachers responsible for one aspect of our application, involved in evaluation the school’s current status, creating an action plan, working on the actions often involving our wider community and community partners, and promoting the actions with their year group and then feeding back on progress with collected evidence to our committee meetings.
Author: Caroline Draper, Secondary EAL & MFL Teacher, Regents International School Pattaya