A PUBLIC high school in Baguio City has been chosen among the finalists for the National Search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly Schools, high-school category, for its environmental practices.
The competition is organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in partnership with the Department of Education and other agencies to recognize environmental initiatives of schools they integrate in their instruction, research, extension and/or administration, programs that are environment related.
The promotion of this program for the establishment and/or strengthening of sustainable and eco-friendly schools in the country had been enshrined as a priority to the Post Asean Environment Year 2015 Celebration with the theme “Empowering the Youth for a Green Asean Community.”
Winners will be announced in November.
At Pinsao National High School (PNHS), its constituents deem cleanliness and ecologically sound practices as a norm. It is home to a campus bedecked with vegetable and fruit gardens put using recyclable materials, such as plastic bottles, juice tetra packs, basketball balls, electric fan wires, old tires and other items that can be salvaged before disposal.
Technology and Livelihood Education teacher Angeline Marcelle P. Zarate, chairman of the school’s landscaping and gardening committee, said under their supervision, the students came out with eco-brick structures, made of recycled soft-drink bottles reinforced by shredded plastic junk-food packages.
Vertical and hanging gardens are found in concrete walls and other suitable spots in the school.
Students also made and maintained a structure for their drainage system out of plastic bottles. Their irrigation system also comes from a natural source, a spring located in the upper area of the school that trickles down through a mound of land intentionally planted with grasses, which help against erosion.
Classrooms of all grade levels have their own eco-friendly corner, created by students applying the 5Rs—reuse, reduce, recycle, repair and recover.
Zarate said they started the movement in 2011 after the school’s attention was called out for generating the largest volume of waste in Barangay Pinsao. Most of the wastes they threw were made of plastic.
“That time, we thought we had to do something,” Zarate said.
The change did not happen overnight, but it was to the advantage of the school that the community residents and the barangay council have been supportive of the effort of making the school, where their children study, an environment-friendly community.
Through coordination, community members, through the barangay council and the school’s association of parents and teachers, later got involved and supported the school effort. Residents started bringing over to the school things that could be recycled and used in the gulayan gardens, therefore also helping reduce the waste volume from the households.
The school also developed its own material-recovery facilities, where garbage items were properly classified and segregated as biodegradable and nonbiodegradable. They also built vermiculture facilities to produce organic fertilizers they use in the gardens.
Crops harvested from the gardens are sold in the barangays, and the proceeds are used to support the school’s supplemental-feeding program to improve its students’ nutrition status. The PNHS was also able to reduce the number of severely wasted children from more than 30 in 2015 to this year’s five cases.
From 10 big containers in 2011, the school now is generating only two sacks of garbage. Most of their trash is converted to useful materials in the campus.
Image credits: Mauricio Victa