School districts in the Nanaimo and Parksville region are trying to get a zero-waste education pilot project get off the ground.
The RDN solid waste management select committee is expected to consider motions at its Thursday, Dec. 5 meeting that could see its solid waste services department and Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Qualicum school districts partner to teach students about diverting items from the waste stream. Under the proposal, six schools in Nanaimo-Ladysmith and three in Qualicum, for a total of 30 classrooms, would be involved.
Shelley Gvojich, Nanaimo school district learning coordinator, would oversee the project and according to her proposal, “schools and classrooms will be targeted on the basis of both interest and need.”
Among the project’s aims, she said, are actively engaging students in activities to lessen their impact on the environment, interactive learning intended to lead to discourse on topics such as composting, green business practices, deterioration of water systems and climate change.
Gvojich’s proposal seeks $31,000 for teacher inquiry focus sessions and collaboration time. The proposal said teachers will need to shift their practices and it will require them time to collaborate to achieve this. There is a likelihood that “school groups” will require at least two half days each to plan for project implementation.
Selected classrooms will have $25,000 for resources, which they would have to apply for. The proposal suggests materials could include videos, re-usable containers, bottles and compostable cutlery.
Classes would also have $10,000 from which to apply for field trips, according to the proposal.
According to a staff report, the 2019 RDN budget had $50,000 for education related to recycling, but only $5,549 has been used and the RDN’s 2020 budget proposal has $74,000 set aside for education.
Ben Geselbracht, RDN solid waste committee chairperson, said he was excited about what the potential partnership could bring.
“I think that we really need to double down in building the green circular economy and that’s where all the materials at the end of their life are collected and either re-used or recycled,” said Geselbracht. “To do this, you really need to have a robust collection system, where there’s low contamination and materials are separated and I think we can create the model system in our schools, so that our youth are well-trained…
“More importantly, we really need our youth to develop creative problem-solving ability to … be able to analyze materials that can be re-used, recycled and to find solutions how to reduce these items and come up with alternatives for items that don’t have a home.”
If approved at the committee level, approval from the RDN board would still be needed.