Benenden’s student-led Eco Committee has regrouped after a brief hiatus and is back bigger and better than ever, ready to tackle their ambitious sustainability goals for the School. Here, Isla, Six One student, shares the committee's plans for the academic year.
The Eco Committee this year has set out an ambitious but achievable goal. We want to make Benenden a more sustainable place, preserving our environment as best we can and also focusing on long-term goals, educating students about what they can do individually and as a group, which they can hopefully implement as they leave school and make differences on a larger scale.
To make this a continuous effort lasting throughout the years to come, we have a vision to become a recognised and affiliated Eco School. Becoming an Eco school is a seven-step process, which relies on basic requirements being achieved, such as forming a passionate committee with a representative from each year group, a frequently updated board with our plans and actions, passing an environmental criteria review assessed by an official external source, incorporating curriculum links and many more.
The Eco Committee has started by encouraging as many like-minded people who are eager to make a change at School as possible to join together. We will meet at least once every half term, preferably once every two weeks, discussing what plans we could implement as well as hearing direct feedback from students from all year groups about what is working or not.
We have already heard some feedback from some students, giving ideas such as including less meat at meals, getting more recycling bins around School and re-starting a vegetable garden that the school can involve themselves with, particularly with Weekend Programme activities. There is so much that we as a School already do, the catering team manage our food waste and recycling very efficiently and are always wary about the amount of plastic that we are using. Looking at boarding Houses individually and what they do is a priority for us this year too, as we realise that there is an excess amount of waste that is produced.
This year, we have planned to re-introduce energy and water usage competitions between Houses, making reducing our carbon footprint more fun, competitive and rewarding. This will hopefully make the awareness about the thought of reducing individual consumption more prevalent in both the staff and students’ everyday lives.
We also recognise that there is much more we can do, to both the local community and to lives outside Benenden that aren’t as privileged as us, and who would benefit largely from our attention and donations. To achieve this the Eco Committee want to work with both the Charity Committee as well as the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team to ensure the action we take involves raising attention to the people most vulnerable people to climate change and taking as much initiative as we can to help them.
Overall, these small steps that we are wanting to achieve and execute are a part of a bigger picture to becoming a more sustainable school, who constantly look to prioritising the environment on a local and national scale. We believe that by showing the significance and importance of becoming an Eco School through an inclusive lens, we will construct the strongest and most ambitious students to take action.