Abu Dhabi: It's a bright, sunny day. Perfect for playing outside during recess. Some pupils use the precious time to their full advantage, playing or catching up with friends, while others line up in front of brightly coloured bins that dot the grounds of American International School of Abu Dhabi.

One child throws away a used soda can, another an empty packet of chips and a third a crumpled sheet of notepad paper into the bins. The pupils of the American International School of Abu Dhabi (Aisa) are all doing their small part in helping save the environment.

As pupils file in for their classes, some drop additional unwanted pieces of paper and plastic in specially marked boxes dotting the school campus. The items in the boxes are then transferred to recycling centres in the city.

For pupils at Aisa, recycling is not so much a conscious habit as it is a way of life. Teachers re-use items as much as possible and what cannot be re-used is divided into various piles that are then taken to be recycled.

Pupils are encouraged not only to be environmentally conscious during school hours but even after the final afternoon bell has rung.

Many bring with them items to be recycled from home, making sure that their friends and families are as eco-friendly as possible.

"We have a plastic exhibition that highlights the effects of items such as plastic bags on the environment and what can be done to reduce them," said principal Walter Hetzer.
Pupils are also encouraged to recycle with the aid of a special bulletin board.

The board is overflowing with tips on how to recycle as well as articles that highlight the bad effects of things like plastic bags on the environment and what can be done to reduce the amount of waste generated.

Waste audit

"Some teachers in the middle school even carried out a 'waste audit' of the school with their pupils. The results were then [displayed] to show just how much is being wasted and how much is being recycled," said Deidre Whaanga, one of the teachers actively involved in the school's recycling campaign.

The school has also had several assemblies where teachers and administrators spoke to elementary, middle and high school pupils about the need to recycle plastic bags.

To encourage pupils, the teachers acknowledge anyone who has contributed the most in terms of recyclables or provided them with an idea or suggestion that was used successfully.