Waste Management Initiative at SC campus

Trash is a problem everywhere; Cambodia is no exception. Rural Cambodia lacks an effective trash collection system, meaning that people must dispose of their own waste. This leads to a lot of trash on the ground, in the rivers and in the air. The best way to solve the “trash problem” is to give people other options, ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle their trash instead of dumping or burning it.

For the last couple of weeks, our International volunteer Hannah gave a presentation on waste management to the students at Sustainable Cambodia. The presentation focused on the idea that trash should not be thrown away, it is a resource that can be used again in a number of ways. One of which is recycling bottles, cans and paper to make new materials and composting food waste to make nutrient filled soil.

Hannah presenting to the students at SC
To apply the ideas from the presentation in a more meaningful, hands on way, the students helped paint fourteen recycling and compost bins with both Khmer and English lettering. The bins were then placed around the school. The students both had fun painting the bins and at the same time were able to take ownership over the recycling process at SC. Students also helped pick of trash around campus and sort it into the newly painted bins. Thanks to the efforts of our volunteer Hannah and all of the students and teachers at SC the campus is looking cleaner than ever and ready to start recycling.

Students collecting and putting rubbish into the dust bins
Another way in which the idea that trash is a resource can be taught is through reusing trash. In an effort to encourage students to reuse their trash, Hannah was leading a workshop on how to make toys from trash. Our first project was turning used plastic bags into jump ropes. The students who came to the workshop on Sunday had a blast and each went home with a new jump rope. They would also try to crochet plastic bags into coin purses.

But who said that something like collecting rubbish can't be fun? With the help of Sharon, our International volunteer and long-term supporter, and the help from teachers and staff, Hannah organized a "plastic bottle competition".

31 bags of plastic bottles

The primary students were divided up into eight groups and challenged with collecting as many plastic bottles as they could in three days from around campus, at home, and along the road on the way to school. They collected a total of 31 bags (3 meters by 1 meter) of plastic bottles, far more then we had anticipated. These bags were then given to the SC Youth Club who were able to sell the bottles for about ten dollars, which will go back to the children who collected the bottles in some form. The three classes that collected the most bottles were given reusable plastic water bottles as a prize.

Students with their prizes
But how to make this sustainable?

For the past month volunteers and the Community Development team have been working to set up recycling systems at the other SC schools, as well as local public schools. First a waste management presentation is given to all the students and then to all the staff at the school. Next the students do a waste management workshop to apply what they learned in the presentation. The older students construct recycling bins for plastic bottles and cans out of chicken wire that will be placed around their campus and the younger students draw signs for these bins. The students had a blast building the bins and creating the signs and in the process gained understanding and ownership over the recycling process at their school.

Hannah did an amazing job in teaching the importance of recycling and explaining how important is for all of us to look after the environment. We want to highlight the great effort she put into creating a system within our schools to make sure that everyone takes part of this initiative, not only now, but every day. 

Thanks Hannah for inspiring our students and teachers!


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