When it comes to waste, what comes to Changangkha Middle Secondary School goes back.
With a zero waste policy, the school enjoys an environment that many schools could envy. There is no dustbin in the school because students do not generate waste.
Pencil shavings, exhausted pen refills, half eaten apples and portions of their lunch return home. Every day the school encourages “waste-free” meals and junk food is strictly prohibited inside the school campus, so lunchtime yields little to no trash.
The initiative started in mid-2018 with growing concern over paper and plastic waste littering the school. The impact is there to see. The school surrounding is clean and this cleanliness extends to nearby communities.
The school principal, Nyendo said “People who live nearby the schools are parents of our school children so the value of cleanliness instilled in the students extends beyond classrooms. They go home and instill those values in their parents.” There are 920 students in the school.
As part of the zero waste initiative, the school has a green food policy as well. Every Monday teachers and students bring in “green food” for lunch and eat together. “This helps the teacher monitor package food and also ensure healthy eating. The overall goal of removing dustbins is not just to encourage students not to bring in waste, but not create waste,” he said.
All dustbins were removed as a part of the initiative. The only dustbin on the campus is the one in the girl’s bathroom. Vice principal, Ten Gyalmo said that of the three girl’s bathroom, only one has a dustbin because that is necessary for discarding sanitary pads.
She added that doing away with the dustbins has not only helped to keep the campus clean but also reduced the burden on the cleaners and sweepers significantly. “Before this, they had to empty overflowing dustbins every morning from around the campus. Now they just have to empty one dustbin from the girl’s toilet and clean the academic block.”
The initiative has entered classrooms. According to a school faculty, in order to make sure that no paper waste is produced from the classrooms, students are made to number their notebooks page at the beginning of the year. “We check the page numbers when we check their homework, so if any pages are missing we find out who threw the paper.”
In addition to schools staffs, the schools Nature and Health club ensures that the zero waste policy is implemented effectively.