Wynberg Girls’ High School’s Enviro Club has been awarded a bronze medal for dedication to “thinking green”.
The medal was awarded by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa).
At the beginning of last year, Wynberg Girls’ High School registered with Wessa for the Eco-Schools Programme.
This is an international programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), which was developed to support environmental learning in the classroom. The programme is active in 64 countries around the world and was implemented in South Africa by Wessa in 2003.
The programme is aimed at creating awareness and action around environmental sustainability in schools and their surrounding communities, as well as supporting Education for Sustainable Development in the national curriculum.
Carynn Underhill, the teacher in charge of the Enviro Club, says: “We have been running the Enviro Club for about five years.
“We have organised monthly beach clean-ups on Muizenberg Beach, and helped out at the Kirstenbosch Plant Fair. We have also made the school aware of environmental days, such as Earth Day, by having cake sales and putting up educational posters in the corridors. We have also taken part in an alien vegetation hack with the Kirstenbosch Botanical Society, and helped remove pine trees from Cecilia Forest.”
The first tasks in becoming an Eco-School were to write an eco-code and conduct an audit of the school’s environmental awareness, explains Underhill.
“This audit was then repeated at the end of the year to mark any improvements. We then had to choose our first theme from a given list recommended by Wessa, starting with just one and then adding another one each year,” she says
Underhill admits that this proved to be quite a challenge, as they already had several small projects going and didn’t want to leave anything out.
“We finally chose the theme ‘Resource Use’, as it incorporated the school’s water conservation project, our paper recycling and eco-brick collection, and also the plastic shopping-bag-free campaign that we hope to launch in February this year,” she says.
The process included asking teachers to raise awareness in their classrooms, through the curriculum, about sustainability.
“We asked teachers to volunteer to be ‘Green Teachers’ and gave them a little succulent plant to thank them for their willingness to volunteer, and remind them of their task.
“In October we had to collate all of this information, the evidence of our learning and our actions in a report and submit it to Wessa. The bronze award we were given is valued recognition of everyone’s hard work and commitment.”
This year they will be eligible to win a silver award, and the Enviro Club has many ideas to promote sustainability and make sure that happens.
“Our club is growing and so we now have a committee with a strong team of girls leading and promoting all our different projects.
“The drought has forced all of us to conserve water, but we would like to create more awareness about how to acknowledge and respect all the resources with which our planet provides us and how to be better stewards of them, and therefore better global citizens,” concludes Underhill.