With climate change, scarcity of resources, and alternative energy dominating society’s talking points, it’s easy to see that sustainability is a major topic of concern. However, sustainability isn’t just about what major industries, corporations, and governments do to work towards ecological balance – it’s just as much about the lifestyle choices that every individual makes to reduce their footprint in the world.
These lifestyle choices are hard to make when you’re already older and accustomed to a certain way of living that may no longer be sustainable. That’s why it’s important to ingrain such a lifestyle in people at a young age. With this in mind, many schools are now starting to focus on sustainability, not only to reduce their own footprint and conserve energy, but lead their students by example towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Many of us would have grown up being reminded about simple things like turning off the lights when they’re not in use, or segregating trash. Simple enough! But today, it’s advised to go completely plastic-free, through the use of reusable utensils and food containers, or that we should unplug electrical devices from outlets even if not in use, because they still consume some amount of electricity.
While these methods might not always make their way into our homes, schools have been implementing awareness programmes so that students can adopt these choices. As a result, they’ve led the charge in teaching children new methods of eco-friendly living. You may have been aware of similar programmes when you were yourself schoolchildren – many of us would have become aware of trash segregation or electricity conservation in the first place through what was taught to us in school.
Such sustainability education is important to ensure that our children, future leaders as they are, will make environmentally-friendly decisions once it’s their turn to take the reins of power.
It’s especially powerful when schools don’t just teach sustainability, but integrate it into daily school life. At Swiss International School Dubai, sustainability is at the core of everything we do, from every design element of our campus to the different programmes we implement not just during special occasions, but all year round. Indeed, sustainability is part of our codified school values, as we consider it essential to providing a good environment for our students in which to learn.
Our community’s efforts, guided by our Sustainability Coordinator, have led to a very visible aura of sustainable development all over SISD. We meet the extensive standards of the Swiss Minergie ecolabel for energy consumption, while implementing technologies on campus such as the water-conserving Smixin handwash technology. Meanwhile, our students are taught to save energy and water as well as value the environment as a whole, through initiatives that encourage trash collection, going plastic-free, and even student-led ideas like the light monitor, who ensures that lights are kept off when unneeded.
We’ve also recently concluded our celebration of Earth Day by taking it a big step further with our very own Earth Week, with the theme of honoring the late Sheikh Zayed and his own vision of sustainability. And just this week, we were awarded with the DEWA Conservation Award, as an educational institution that upholds eco-friendly values, paving the way for a generation of students who will be inspired to live eco-friendly lifestyles in turn.