By Gabriela Copello
It is never too late. If you are inspired and you want to take action, now is always a good time to start. My school, Colegio Nueva Granada, in Bogotá, Colombia isn’t the most environmentally conscious or sustainable. The staff, students, and parents live in a conventional mindset. We consume without thinking about reuse, environmental impact or efficiency. However, there is now an organization working to reduce the school’s carbon footprint.
My name is Gabriela, I’m currently a junior at Colegio Nueva Granada, and I’m leading the Sustainability Organization: a new movement at my school. Our goal this year was to reduce the school’s carbon footprint. Being environmentally aware does have to be demanding or time consuming, despite what most people assume. Thinking of a more eco friendly alternative before buying, using or doing something in our everyday lives can go a long way. A few of the lifestyle changes we’re trying to make in school are: reducing water use, going paper-lite, conserving energy by turning off electronics while not in use, serving and preparing school lunches more efficiently, and narrowing packaged food use.
With my peers, we decided to start changing things little by little. We began the school year by introducing Project Green Challenge to teachers in the science department, so they could incorporate it in their curriculums. We received a very positive reaction from them, so we presented it to the students, and the amount of participation we received was very surprising. Project Green Challenge made a very positive impact among students and staff because everyone got to learn together and raise each other’s awareness as a community.
Another one of our goals was to work more with primary, elementary, and middle school students, so kids would get to learn about sustainability from a young age, encouraging them to be more mindful of the impact they have on their environment. One of our main projects right now is a recycling program that takes place every Friday. High school students pass by every primary and elementary class picking up paper to be recycled. Then we separate that paper and collect all the plastic for our second project, Bottle Bricks.
Every Monday after school is our action day, the day when we actually do things. With our Bottle Bricks we want to get to make benches, stools, roofs, anything. Currently we are a small organization, but each year we are growing little by little. Making Bottle Bricks is an innovative way to reuse plastic, because you can make a lot of things with them. You first collect the bottles and make sure they are clean inside. Then we fill them with as many plastic bags as possible until they are very tight. When you have a bunch of them you can use concrete and the bottles to make a wall.
Even though these are small projects they are a big start and a great source of motivation. The reaction of my school has been very positive. The teachers really appreciate what we are doing and they thank us. However, the amount of waste in our school is still very high, and I know that this one project is not enough. As the leader of the organization I know that we can’t wait to do more projects to make the school greener.
Gabriela Copello is a junior at Colegio Nueva Granada, Bogota, Colombia. She hopes to go on to study Global Sustainability Science with a focus on Business and Innovation at University of Utrecht, Holland. Gabriela leads the Sustainability Organization at her school where the main focus is to lower their school’s carbon footprint. In her free time she likes to play volleyball, exercise, and meditate. Gabriela wants to be able to travel so she can learn to be able to teach and raise awareness, so the citizens of the world start making more environmentally conscious choices.