When, a month or so ago, we were informed that ASD was a finalist for the Zayed Sustainability Prize it was a bit of a turning point in our sustainability story. What had begun years ago as a project by a club called Gaia and parental initiatives leading to recycling bins inside classrooms, had slowly grown into the establishment of the Sustainability Action Team, the Sustainability Committee, the creation of an ASD Sustainability Statement, sustainability best practices and, this year, the establishment of a student-facilitated Eco-Schools Advisory Board. Along the same lines we have established partnerships with the Green Schools Alliance and, now, Eco-Schools UAE.
But as our work garners attention outside our school so too does our connection to external factors and influences. Case in point, a film crew was sent to visit ASD over the past couple days to capture the voice of student leaders (referred to as "sustainability ambassadors") and to highlight all the wonderful things we do here. Three recurring themes kept coming up:
- That our work is geared toward empowering our students to make positive change in their community
- That our current sustainability-based programs revolve around the idea of cyclical relationships (such as the journey of food-compost-garden-plants-kitchen-consumption-food)
- That if we are awarded the Prize it will allow our sustainability impact to be larger than ourselves, our students or even our community. In short, sustainability is a great way to bring the school community together with the wider community.
The third theme, in particular, is perhaps a nice segway to our proposed use of the Prize money, which is also subdivided into three elements:
- An industrial composter to eliminate post-consumer food waste and landscaping waste which, instead of being sent to landfill, can now be reused within our campus,
- A beehive to support pollinators in the UAE, and to support the study of biodiversity, life cycles, sustainable business, etc.
- A sustainable data dashboard with real-time data related to school energy, water, paper and waste.
The film crew roamed the campus interviewing students, filming spaces such as the garden, students preparing food in the kitchen, the Workers Appreciation Dinner (highlighted in the previous post), student meetings focusing on the benefits and placement of an industrial composter and/or a beehive, sustainability education, the Global Goals, etc. It was a great learning experience for us all, to be sure.
On January 14 will know if we are the fortunate recipients of this award and will, in this way, support the goals of the UAE in reducing waste and becoming more sustainable. But even if we are not, we will have a wonderful short video focusing on our sustainability story to share with the world!