Students at Our Own English High School, Sharjah, pull out all the stops to go green, with innovative projects that involve reducing, reusing and recycling. Image Credit: Supplied

The Eco Club of our school has instilled a deep sense of responsibility within us, which equips us with the readiness to do more.

Our initial attempt of creating awareness about the environment has progressed to creating an eco-school and thereby a greener Earth!

As an acknowledgement of the good deeds done, its tenth year saw the Eco Club reaching new zeniths of glory.

Today, the school is one among 20 selected for a makeover into an eco-school — an ambitious project by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Ministry of Education, sponsored by HSBC.

With great pride, the school chose two senior students, M. Vigneswari and Angelyn Benny, winners of the Climate Change Quiz 2009, for a video conference session with a school in Ireland. They discussed environmental issues and green initiatives taken up by Our Own English High School, Sharjah.

To spread awareness about global and local environmental issues and in order to educate students on the link between man and the environment, the Eco Club recently organised an Eco-Art Competition for grades 1 to 11.

The topics ranged from planting a tree to shower power! Students were able to stretch their imagination and turn their ideas into art. Eco-champions showcased their ideas in different media, such as canvas, recycled paper and cushion covers on three themes of climate change: litter, water and electricity.

The prize-giving ceremony of this competition is scheduled for February.

Themed pursuit

Moving from past themes, we now have taken up the topic "Carbon Neutral, Climate Smart", which aims at reducing carbon emissions and creating awareness about climate change.

As the main aim is to empower the student community to become active contributors in reducing carbon emissions and to gain an understanding of the eco-school project, a workshop was held on November 4, 2010 in the school auditorium.

The workshop was attended by the eco-committee which comprised of students (eco-champions), supervisors (eco-advisors), teachers (eco-representatives), administrative staff (eco-warriors), support staff (eco-monitors) and HSBC volunteers (climate champions).

With the active involvement of the eco-committee, the Eco Club plans to create awareness on issues relating to climate change and to focus on steps to reduce carbon emissions.

The Eco Club works with perseverance and determination to shape the future generation to think and act green.

Last year's accomplishment of winning energy-saving devices worth Dh100,000 through the Climate Change Quiz competition and securing the second runners-up position in the Save Water and Electricity drive by the EWS-WWF inspired us more than ever.

We also conducted a study on litter in our middle school — grades 5 to 8 — during Class Party Day when students brought in various kinds of food.

The waste was weighed before being disposed. Students also enjoyed segregating organic food matter and depositing it in a pit for compost, to be used for their eco-garden.

A similar study was conducted on a regular working day. The carbon emissions due to litter along with the water, electricity and the gas bill is being calculated by the Eco Club team. Based on the report, the Eco Club will take suitable measures and frame an action plan.

Workshop wonder

A workshop was held exclusively for teachers on climate change and curriculum. A comparison drawn between Dubai from the years 1991 and 2005 truly depicted the stark reality of emergent pollution.

The middle school supervisor and eco-advisor for the Eco Club, Mrs Sheela Anand, discussed how environmental concepts could be integrated into the regular curriculum. She emphasised that teachers should be equipped with knowledge and skills on various environmental issues and the impact it has on future generations.

As soon as the decisions were taken, students followed it up with implementation. In the senior and middle schools, eco-champions installed plants, which have created a cooler, greener environment.

We also organised three subcommittees based on water, electricity and litter, with 21 eco-champions in each. These sub-committees take the necessary steps to monitor and study the future status of litter, water and electricity bills of the school and keep changing strategies accordingly, by seeking guidance from their teachers and other eco-committee members.

New projects

The Paperwise Campaign, a project that has been ongoing for several years, saw the whole school contributing immensely to the drive.

December 21, 2010 was a special day for the school, as eco-champions of the middle and senior school created an eco-garden by planting numerous seasonal and flowering plants in the school campus. We understood the importance of growing plants to reduce carbon emissions.

On the very same day, the home science students of grade 11 and 12 organised a fashion extravaganza called ‘Recycle Runway', while advocating the slogan ‘Be the change'.

The show sparked a lot of interest among students, teachers and parents for its unique idea of using waste materials such as plastic bags, bubble wrap, magazines, paper dye cuts, garbage bags and cans to design garments.

The show began with a presentation about the impact of indiscriminate use of resources. Then the stage was set for the models with valuable messages. Lights flashed on models from grades 9 and 10 as they sauntered down the ramp to the music, showcasing innovative creations of the designers.

The audience remained spellbound and captivated from the first outfit to the last. The show ended with a presentation illustrating practical ideas on how to use resources more judiciously to save our planet.

All in all, it was a wonderful event for a great cause.

The same evening, kindergarten students had a special event titled "Mum and Dad Special", where a fashion show was put up by parents. The show had families dressed in recycled waste material. Onlookers were urged to take care of their fragile environment by using materials wisely. It was a fun-filled and fulfilling day.

Then, on December 22, 2010, the last working day of school before winter break, it was a day of joy for middle school students of grades 7 and 8.

The eco-champions celebrated Christmas with a difference, by applying what they learnt at the Middle East Vegetarian Congress workshop which they had attended recently at the World Trade Centre. For the club activity period, students were advised to bring fresh vegetables and fruits to school in order to make salads and share.

Students were advised not to bring meat on the day, just to learn about how eating too much meat can contribute to methane which is a greenhouse gas. Students learned about eating healthy and staying fit.

The Eco Club is sure to leave its green footprint upon the face of the Earth. We hope to continue doing this good work and paving the path for a sustainable future.

To know more about our activities, visit the website www.ourownecoactivities.kawoosa.com

The reader is a pupil of Our Own English High School, Sharjah