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J a n e t  M c E w a n

Cape Cornwall School

A Waste Awareness Campaign.


In Feb 2009 I was invited by Plan-it Earth, an environmental education centre based in Cornwall, to lead a day workshop in Cape Cornwall Secondary School, on waste management.

Plan-it Earth were in the process of mentoring the local school through their self elected transformation to become a nationally acclaimed flagship sustainable 'Transition' school. The day on waste was one a series considering different aspects of 'sustainability' and aimed to help the school examine the successes and failings of its current practice. Around 30 students had elected to take part in this course.


Several weeks prior to the workshop, I visited the school, had a wander about and spoke to members of staff: trying to get a feel of the school and where they were at with their recycling etc. A peek in one of the wheelie bins suggested that their was definately room for improvement ,as did conversations with the maintenance staff who seemed to be the most aware of just how much waste the school generated.

I proposed that the school saved all its rubbish for the week before the workshop, displaying it in the centre of the building in a large foyer for everyone to see. To my delight the school embraced this fully , and with the exception of food waste, which for pretty obvious reasons , had to be disposed of immediateley. The janitor broke the collection space up into isles asigned to different departments/areas  of the school, to help identify where the rubbish came from. This also possibly generated an element of competition to the exercise.....

I had no idea what to expect but on the day, but had to applaud the school for enthusiastically embracing this proposal which did cause some controversey amongst staff, a couple of whom openly expressed disgust that rubbish was piled in the centre of the school building for all to see. So the event stimulated a lot of discussion.

As the bags were transparent we could see that a lot of the contents were potentially reusable and following a morning session of discussion, role play games  and slogan writing with the students,  we all proceeded to try to sort out the contents of the bags. While a good amount of the contents were sent to waste or appropriate recycling bins, some of the bags revealed clothes, china, and books  which we laid out and invited people to take home if they wanted.  At the end of the day we left a small table covered in gold paper with items free to take away to good homes.


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