From Trash to Resource and Beyond (2009)
SUMMARY: Started in 2009, our project continues to go strong, with a varying cast of high-school students participating over the years. The core of our project is comprised of our paper and plastic bottle recycling effort, and subsequent new use of this "trash" as recycled notebooks and other paper products, as well as drinkwater-purification devices for rural Malagasy communities. New as of 2012, our students investigated, and subsequently developed a power-point presentation on ways to reduce incidences of water-born diseases. These incude (i) information dissemination about water-born diseases and their pathway of infecting humans, (ii) possible treatment of bilharzia through a locally found, and easily cultivated, plant (Phytolacca sp.), and (iii) augmenting clean drinkwater availability through reforestation. This presentation was shown to part of our school community for educational purposes, and we intend to translate this presentation into Malagasy and French for further distribution among the Malagasy community. The presentation was also shown at the Global Issues Service Summit 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. In the process of researching the link between a healthy environment and healthy human populations, our students decided to hold a fundraiser for a tree planting project (http://www.edenprojects.org/) in the Majunga region of Madagascar, and subsequently raised about 300,-USD, the equivalent of 3000 trees planted. Additionally, our 9th grade Biology and 11/12th grade Conservation Science students also actively participated in planting native rainforest-trees in a reforestation corridor project in Anjozorobe, in the Antananarivo region. During two field trips we thus planted a total of about 100 trees. The students immensely enjoyed all of these activities, despite the work invoved, and called it a "great learning experience"
We are so proud of the accomplishments of our students, and thank them all for their efforts, dedication and their creativity! We will definitely continued all our activities next year.
PROJECT DETAILS: Our project started almost by accident, when we decided to inspire our students to think about (i) their personal impacts on our environment, and (ii) their responsibilities, as future stewards of our environment, to actively seek ways to protect it. An initial school-wide recycling campaign led by our AP Environmental Science class 2008/9 eventually evolved into a paper and plastic-bottle recycling project. In a country without recycling possibilities, we have been looking for ways to put discarded resources to new uses. In addition, we wanted to have our resources go to as good a cause as possible, and to benefit someone who would really be supported by what we do. These are the new uses we have identified for our school’s “trash” here in Madagascar.
Our Paper: Some of our paper is being turned by our students into recycled notebooks, which are then supplied to a local school for street-children for their learning. The rest of our paper is boxed and supplied to a local shelter and vocational training facility for destitute children & young people (Akany Avoko; www.akanyavoko.com) to be turned into paper-pulp and ultimately new paper products. The local shelter supplements its income by selling these paper products. In 2012, we have for the first time exceeded Akany Avoko's capacity to take all our recycled paper for their purposes; we have subsequently collaborated with a relatively new local recycling orgnization, Madaexport SARL, which exports the paper to India, where it is used in the paper production process. In 2012 alone, we will produce approximately 350 notebooks for distribution, and about 20 m3 has already been donated to Akany Avoko and Madaexport.
Our Plastic Bottles: In this relatively new off-shoot of our school’s recycling project we turn our used plastic bottles into devices for purifying drinkwater for local rural communities in Madagascar. While our students collect, clean and label with instructions the bottles for water purification, we have asked local NGOs already working in rural areas around Madagascar to distribute these bottles in the field. The idea for water purification in this way stems from the organization SODIS (www.sodis.ch); however, it was our students who have initiated the use of this method here in Madagascar. To date, we have collected about 800 PET water bottles, and distributed about 200 of these to local communities. In the future, we hope to involve even more students in our recycling efforts, and more local NGOs in bottle distribution, to allow a larger number of local communities to benefit from our efforts.
Our Educational Power-Point Presentation: [Please see the attached power-point presentation "Preventing Water-born Diseases".]
Students researched water-born diseases and their life-cycles and pathways of human infections. They documented symptoms and illustrated how to avoid infection through avoiding "dirty" drinkwater. As clean drinkwater availability is a problem in many rural, tropical areas, our students incorporated into their presentation a demonstration of the simple way of purifying drinkwater with recycled plastic bottles. They also investigated the bilharzia-supressing properties of a locally found plant, Phytolacca sp., and students also grew this plant in our school garden to demonstrate that it would be easily cultivatable in Madagascar. Lastly, students investigated and demonstrated the effect of deforestation on clean drinkwater avaiability, and subsequently raised funds for a reforestation project that replants local trees, while providing job opportunities (planting trees) for local people in a depressed rural area in western Madagascar. Additionally, to actively involve our students in reforestation efforts here in Madagascar, our 2011/12 Conservation Science class, and 9th Grade Biology class also participated in tree-planting in a community-managed reforestation project.
This power-point presentation was shown to several audiences, for example the Global Issues Service Summit 2012 and our own school community. Our next goal is to translate this presentation into French and Malagasy, and subsequently show it to various communities in Madagascar.
Our Tree-Planting Efforts:
About 36 of our students went on an overnight field-trip to a community-managed reforestation corridor, adjacent to one of the last remaining patches of highland rainforest in Madagascar, where we paid for - and subsequently planted - approximately 100 small native rainforest trees. These trees had been raised from locally collected seeds at a community-run small nursery; our payments served to reimburse the costs involved in raising the tree seedlings to the age at which we planted them (ca 1 year old). Plantin costs also cover follow-up care for the planted tree seedlings in subsequent years.
In an effort to support more remote tree-planting activities in Madagascar, where deforestation is a major environmental problem leading to soil erosion and diminished clean drinkwater availability, our 9th grade Biology class also organized several fundraiser bake-sales at our school, together with informative posters that advertised the mission of the beneficiary tree-planting project (The Eden Projects, Majunga, Madagascar; http://www.edenprojects.org/). Donation boxes were also distributed on campus. All in all, these eforts raised about 300 USD, which translated into 3000 trees planted by The Eden Project's locally hired community employees. Supporting The Eden Project also supported local communtiy education about reducing deforestation, and advertising the benefits of reforesting clear-cut areas in Madagascar and Ethiopia. [Please see the attached power-point presentation "Preventing Water-born Diseases".]
Steps involved in Paper and Plastic Processing at our school:
Paper: Our paper recycling project involves (i) educating our school community to use less paper for printing etc, (ii) collect discarded paper from classrooms, and to this end supply paper-recycling containers, (iii) sort by hand all paper into various categories, and (iv) process these different papers accordingly.
First quality paper (white, smooth, but printed on one side) goes back into printers and photocopy-machines to be re-used as is. To encourage printing and photocopying on recycled paper, we supply specially labeled boxes to printers and photocopy machines. Additionally, we regularly remind teachers and staff of this opportunity to use recycled paper during staff meetings.
Second quality paper, that is, paper printed on one side, but not to be fed into printers anymore, is processed into notebooks by our students. The steps involved in notebook production are:
(1) Sorting and smoothing each sheet of paper, (2) removing staples, tape, etc, (3) cutting paper into A5 size, (4) assembling stacks of paper into notebooks with large staples, (5) attaching cardboard backs to notebooks (the cardboard backs are also made by our students from recycled cardboard), (6) cutting, decorating and attaching protective flap-covers to notebooks that were also made by our students from recycled cardboard and decorative paper scraps, and (7) assembling and boxing up finished notebooks, for distribution at the local target schools.
All paper already printed on both sides, or else too dirty or small for processing into notebooks, is boxed up and supplied to a local shelter and vocational training center for destitute children & young people (Akany Avoko, www.akanyavoko.com). The shelter runs a small-scale paper-production operation for which our school recycling provides some of the needed raw materials. Paper is turned into pulp and further processed into new paper products, such as decorative greeting cards and paper gift bags; the sale of these finished paper products supplements the orphanage’s income.
During the 2008/09 school year we produced, and subsequently donated, about 80 notebooks. During the 2009/10 school year we stepped up our efforts and produced 120 notebooks that were subsequently distributed to the local school for street children at the beginning of the 2010/11 school year. This school year, we already produced about 200 notebooks, with many more in the making.
Plastic Bottles: Our plastic bottle recycling project involves (i) educating our school community to recycle used PET water bottles, (ii) collect discarded bottles in strategically placed plastic-bottle recycling containers, and (iii) process the bottles for use in the water-purification project.
The school-community education aspect involved showing an informative Power-Point presentation (see attached document Plastic Bottle Recycling Info.pptx) and thus inviting the community to recycle their used water bottles. Bottles were collected, in specially supplied recycling containers placed near the food court, and subsequently cleaned thoroughly.
Bottles were then equipped with special instruction labels produced by our students. Instructions featured on these labels were written in the Malagassy language, as well as in pictures, and described the appropriate use of these bottles in drink-water purification. Label design and instructions followed the original template provided on the SODIS website (www.sodis.ch).
Subsequently, we identified a local NGO (CBI) already working in a remote rural area in Madagascar's dry west (Ankavandra); this NGO was willing to distribute our bottles and promote their appropriate usage in drink-water purification.
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