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Sat April 26, 2014
Think Global, Act Local
SciWorks Radio is a production of 88.5 WFDD and SciWorks, the Science Center and Environmental Park of Forsyth County, located in Winston-Salem.
You've heard it before: Think Globally, act locally. Sometimes that means buying local food, or carpooling. But when you get down to it, what’s more local than your child’s school?
We spoke with Andrew Clifton, Green Program Coordinator at Forsyth Country Day School, who has built environmental sustainability into students’ educational experience.
I’m a Science Teacher. I was charged with beginning a sustainability program within the K-12 realm. What we did was empower the students and think about ways that we can effect change. We talk about our use of resources, not only from a scientific perspective but also from economic social and political perspective.
Sustainability is the use of resources without depleting or destroying them. In a society that values convenience, this requires some change to our overall lifestyle. How can we bring up our next generation with the tools they need to overcome these challenges? Here’s how Andy is doing it.
We have five pillars in our program. The first is education. Obviously we want students to be educated about the issues in sustainability. The second is service, that were serving in the community. The third is partnerships with agencies such as SciWorks. Whether its an educational initiative or a service related project. The fourth is operations because for some people be environmental benefit of making changes in operations may not resonate with them, but the financial savings does. And then the fifth is student health and well-being. When we look at air-quality, water quality, making sure that we're addressing that as well. Those five pillars of our program provide almost limitless opportunities to affect change. And so, we've heard it many times: think globally act locally, but essentially that's what you can do at the school level. One of my favorite examples is a student that, back in 2007-2008 recognized at the end of each school year that a lot of books were not being used again. And he said, “I’m gonna collect all these books”. He did that and he designated the books as: so tattered and torn they just need to be recycled, those that really weren't worth much money but would be worth it to a school or organization that needed books, and those that he can sell online to make a little bit of money. So he raise about $3,000, and then students use those funds to support sustainability projects at the school and in the community. And that particular student, Cory Adkins was recognized in Washington with one of the President’s environmental youth awards. And that was his idea. But that’s where we come back the educational piece to provide that platform for students to be able to think about these issues and then to be able to act.
So, what are some ways you and I can limit our impact on the environment?
You hear reduce, reuse, recycle. Ideally what we want people to focus on reducing consumption and not consuming resources that that we don't need to. We first focus on reducing and reusing. Recycling is really the third option. The benefits to those three Rs goes back to defining sustainability.
How many disposable sandwich bags did you send to school last week? A person’s actions can have a direct effect on the environment, however small. With some though our local actions can become a force for global change.
We do need to be responsible with our resources. If we can come together in agreement on that primary point then we can the major issues they're facing us. The majority of those have to do with resources: available food, water quality, clean water, energy and obviously using coal, oil and natural gas which we certainly may not have in the not-too-distant future.
And so looking at how those problems or or dealt there's a balance between government mandates and involvement and free market, and we talk a lot about that with our students as well. So what kind of impact have Andy Clifton and his students had?
There's been a real growth since we began our program in 2006 to where we can learn from other schools, other schools can learn from us. Something like the green books project we’ve shared with other schools. That project has raised, since 2007, over $25,000. That's money that has been reinvested, not only in the school, but in the community. So when students decide we want to sponsor the Piedmont Earth Day Fair, they have funds to do that.