“Rules and policies.. do not change hearts”: UN Day and the Environment

by Taylor Bata

As environmental concerns grow within the student body, distinct efforts to mitigate waste have been taken up within the school. Most notably, the plastic cup ban came into effect last year. But what about an event as large as UN Day? 

Glass Recycling Being Used as Trash Bin in Main Gym

Tables like Vietnam and China used wooden utensils as opposed to plastic ones, and Turkey utilized toothpicks for their balaclava and other food items. However, some tables used insulated cardboard cups that were non-recyclable such as the Isreali and Indian tables. In addition to this, while there were recycling bins available to use for waste disposal, there was a glass bin placed in the gym that ended up being treated as a trashcan, making the whole bag unable to be recycled.

Even with these issues, there seems to be a natural shift of more environmentally conscious choices being made with UN Day. Warrior News sat down for an interview with the school Director, Mr. Zurfluh, to get his take.  

Has the school considered creating strict policies to encourage and ensure environmentally-friendly behaviour?

“I think at the early stages it’s better for people adopting changes and habits within a context of encouragement. Rules and policies have not shown to be effective. It doesn’t actually change people’s minds and hearts. What we’re trying to do is get more engagement around creating a push for something… I have pushed back on me saying, “get rid of that, this is a new rule, this is a new policy,” because more often than not those kinds of things disappear. They disappear because you have not built enough of a cohesion or support for them.” 

Trash in the Glass Recycling Bin

The school is more comfortable with taking a relaxed approach than creating hard line policies regarding waste on UN Day for the time being.  However, in the context of getting potential sponsors to provide eco-friendly utensils or cups, the school is open if the opportunity is to arise. Yet, with the volatile market of sustainable eating-ware companies, this task proves to be challenging, even with the strides made with the improved cafeteria packaging. 

Do you think there is an interest in getting sponsorships from companies to give these [environmentally friendly] materials?

“A challenge we face are supply channels. Many of these biodegradable products come and go in the marketplace. There is not a sustainable source of these products. We have a level of interest, we buy them all out and then they are not available anymore. That is what our cafeteria was facing. Biodegradable products were brought in on our encouragement; they were able to supply, and then they disappeared. That’s why we changed container. We hope the ones they have chosen now are more consistent and long term… It’s our only option because we don’t have the supply channel for environmentally sustainable options.”

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