The 2018-2019 academic year has truly been a successful one in terms of environmental action. For the first time in Sha Tin College’s history, there has been a centralised and coordinated group to organise the various environmental projects going on at Sha Tin College. Furthermore, the Environmental Council has made the unprecedented move of engaging in inter-school and community initiatives.
The Environmental Council represents a monumental leap from previous environmental action at Sha Tin College by collecting together the most enthusiastic and skilled students among our community who share a passion for environmental awareness and protection. Groups such as Plastic Oceans and the Food Crusaders have been able to operate more efficiently. The Council served not just as a show of unity and strength, but also to network different groups so environmental action could be coordinated, information and contacts exchanged as well as pooling together resources and manpower.
Through this improved governance, the Environmental Council now governs sub-groups such as the Food Crusaders (dedicated to reducing food waste) and the Catering Committee (dedicated to liaising with Chartwells), also working alongside the gardening group to improve biodiversity at Sha Tin College.
This change in governance had led to the foundation of the leadership council, a group of nine senior members that championed and guided environmental projects at Sha Tin College, with each person being responsible for specific tasks such as managing funding or public relations. This not only prevented wasting time in overlapping tasks and competition between individual projects, but also led to greater unity and cohesion.
Throughout the year, there have been several changes to the governance of the Environmental Council as the roles of the leadership council and individual departments were refined to better suit the needs of the school. After a thorough review, the summer will lead way to a downsizing program initiated by the leadership council to further improve internal communications as well as member participation, and ensure that the Council is well positioned to take on additional projects in the coming year.
The Environmental Council has been very active in the Sha Tin College community as well as the wider ESF community. The Environmental Council has installed recycling bins across the school campus, including recycling stations on every floor of the central staircases. Paper recycling bins have been brought to every classroom in a bid to reduce paper waste.
The year has also led to the birth of the ‘One Plant One Classroom’ initiative, whereby every classroom would have different plants, which studies have shown not only increase student concentration, but also improve the air quality by removing PVOCs and fumes from car exhausts and other sources of pollution. Many new plants were also added to the outdoor areas of the Sha Tin College Campus.
The Environmental Council has also helped progress the solar panel project, which after five years interruption, is now back on track with the project due for completion by the start of the 2019-2020 academic year in August. Members of the Environmental Council worked with the school’s finance team in the tendering process to select the contractor to complete the project, which will be on Block 2’s roof. Seven panels will be linked up in a 2.3MWh per year system, which will provide not only a rebate for the generated electricity, but also educational opportunities for the Science department. The second phase of solar panels managed by ESF is already in the works and will likely be placed on Block 3 in the near future.
The Catering Committee and the Food Crusaders have worked with Chartwells on several initiatives, perhaps the most significant of which is the composting project. Three rotary composters were procured by the Nature Works group, which are now being managed by a volunteer group of Y7-8 students at lunchtimes. Bokashi bins have also been procured to generate compost for the gardening project. Other initiatives such as removing straws, removing plastic cutlery and takeout boxes as well as increasing vegetarian options are also being worked on by these subgroups.
The Environmental Council has also sent representatives to meet the ESF wide Environmental Council, and together have worked on the ESF Sustainability Strategy, a governing piece of legislation that will lay the foundation for ESF in taking more environmental action for the next five years. The Environmental Council will liaise with staff to set key performance indicators in a Sha Tin College specific strategy and work to implement the ESF guidelines within the school.
Student Empowerment and Education:
The Environmental Council has worked to champion environmental action and help coordinate resources to empower students to better learn about environmental issues as well as ignite environmental action. The Environmental Council is working with various groups to create educational opportunities for students, not limited to collaborating with the GTS department in an effort to include a sustainability unit in the MYP.
For air quality, Sha Tin College has committed to working with the Clean Air Network (CAN) as part of the ‘let our children breathe’ campaign. CAN has committed to installing two electronic sensors to monitor various locations around the Sha Tin College campus to ensure that students are not unknowingly subject to pollutant particles such as TVOC and P2.5 particles. The Environmental Council will also be working with experts from CAN to share and educate students on the significance of the data collected to aid in the understanding of air pollution as an environmental issue.
For renewable energy, the Environmental Council will work with experts from Eco Smart to maximize the educational opportunities offered by the installation of solar panels.
For energy conservation, the Environmental Council successfully implemented a ‘no power hour’ during Earth Hour, in which students were encouraged to avoid using electricity by turning off chargers, air conditioners and lights.
For recycling and food waste, the Environmental Council and its subgroups have been working on campaigns to encourage the student body to reduce food waste. The Food Crusaders designed and purchased a banner above the canteen to remind students to reduce food waste. Posters warning students against damaging or disposing of metal cutlery have also been posted. The Food Crusaders also audited several weeks of food waste at Sha Tin College, and through assemblies as well as composting followed the initial objective of reducing food waste by ten percent in the month’s data that was collected. Green Week also featured a comprehensive waste audit, which will better enable the Council to set future goals in waste reduction.
The Environmental Council has continued to affirm its support for the ESF Sustainability Council. Highlights of this partnership include several rounds of negotiations with Chartwells on a foundation level to remove plastic straws, increase provision of metal cutlery, as well as introduce meatless Mondays. Yet the most significant and landmark achievement remains the development of the ESF Sustainability Guidelines, which the STC delegation provided invaluable advice and input for. The guidelines will be interwoven with ESF Vision 2025, and represents the first foundation level commitment to sustainable operations and environmental education, and will serve as the basis for further sustainability-related action. The guidelines can be found on the Council’s website, as well as on social media.
The Environmental Council will continue to spearhead environmental action at Sha Tin College and represent the school at ESF. Several comprehensive reforms will take place to increase the Council’s social media presence as well as produce educational materials for the student body. As the Environmental Council continues to move forward through the months, bringing sustainability into all aspects of school life, we hope that every one of you can continue to give your full support to the development of environmentalism and sustainability at Sha Tin College and beyond.
Solomon Lam Yin Wai Kwong
Chairperson of the Environmental Council Director of the Environmental Council