RDS_190812 CR - Zero waste of books and uniforms-1565540820744
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  • Books and uniforms are reused or donated at this Dubai school

Gulf News previously published a reader’s report “School ends but used books, uniforms aren’t wasted at this school in Dubai “, Gulf News, July 15, which detailed how The Winchester School, Jebel Ali has started an initiative called ‘Winshares’ through which the school is promoting the passing on and reuse of gently used books and uniforms within the school community. The initiative has successfully passed on 3000 books and 650 uniform items at the end of the academic session.

In this report, we would like to update how the school has made additional efforts to ensure ‘zero waste’ of textbooks and uniforms as well as reach out beyond the school community and the nation to extend a helping hand to the less privileged.

So this is what followed after passing on 3000 books and uniforms within the school community - once school closed for summer break, a few members of the Winshares team volunteered their time to sort out the textbooks and uniforms left behind. Many of these textbooks were the ones which had been replaced by newer editions hence would not prove to be useful to the students in the new academic session starting in September. Nonetheless, these textbooks were in good condition with subjects ranging from English, mathematics, science, Islamic education and moral education.

In addition, we also had hundreds of uniform items such as shirts, jackets, cardigans, and trousers, however, they did not meet a prime criteria of the clothes we accept - they had faded logos or looked a little too worn-out to wear at school. But other than that, these items were good enough to be worn rather than being sent to the recycling facilities.

Donations to Emirates Red Crescent Society

We consulted Meenakshi Dahiya, our principal, who is a passionate advocate of environmental sustainability as well as sharing. We requested for guidance and advice as to what could be the best solution for these books and uniforms. After some research and deliberation, it was decided that the uniforms and textbooks will be donated to Emirates Red Crescent Society, which helps pass on commodities to less privileged children in the UAE as well as beyond the nation.

So, we devoted a morning neatly packing the textbooks and uniforms in cartons ensuring that we were giving only the books in perfect condition without any tears or missing pages and also that the uniforms were in good condition to be worn. Approximately 500 books and uniforms were donated to Emirates Red Crescent Society.

Why is reusing books and uniforms important?

• 700 gallons of water go into the making of one cotton shirt when we consider the growing of a cotton plant from a seedling to maturity.

• Most of the outgrown clothes head to our landfills where they release greenhouse gases and leach toxins and dyes into the surrounding soil and water.

• Approximately 4 billion trees or 35 percent of the total trees chopped down around the globe are used in paper industries on every continent. This amounts to about 2.47 million trees cut down every single day.

• Between 1990 and 2016, our planet has lost 1.3 million square kilometres of forest — an area larger than South Africa.

The stark truth is that our planet is now reeling under the consequences of the ever growing demands of the population as well the brazen misuse of the depleting natural resources. Therefore, reuse the available resources is the need of the hour. We’re very contended and happy that we could contribute to the wellbeing of the planet and further cut down the collective carbon footprint of our school. Of course, the greatest source of joy to us is the fact that these textbooks and uniforms would be a source of relief and joy to children in some part of the world.

Books and uniforms are the commodities which are used in the largest quantities in schools hence it is imperative that we proactively find solutions to prolong their lifespan so that they’re reused again and again instead of being sent to recycling facilities. We endeavour to now make this a regular practice in our school and we hope that other institutions will follow our lead as well

Our vision and commitment are clear - a world where unconditional sharing is a norm and zero waste a priority.

- The writer is a student based in Dubai