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Green waste composter design challenge for Cambridge school strikers



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The second Cambridge Schools Eco Council online school strike took place on April 3, 2020
The second Cambridge Schools Eco Council online school strike took place on April 3, 2020

Spare a thought for Cambridge schoolchildren in this crisis: we’re talking pupils from the age of eight or nine, through to early teens.

In their short lives they’ve watched the world going increasingly out of kilter as climate change kicks in: anyone remember the Australian bush fires, the flooding in northern England, the massive rupture of the forest of the Amazon?

Now, things have gone up a notch, and we’re in trouble as a species, apparently without any rudder or direction to steer in when it comes to setting a new course for even the next couple of months. How do you cope with that?

Rather competently, as it turns out: the school strikes are going ahead, as are the council meetings, just not on the streets of the city, not in the Michaelhouse Centre. The second online school action took place on April 3 (the first was on March 13, before the lockdown but when it was already apparent which way the wind was blowing), and the first virtual council meeting was held on April 4.

The discipline is impressive: no bewailing the fact that their education has been snatched from under their feet, no attempts to find an upside. The battle for climate justice must go on - maybe just more locally. The theme for the second school strike was the region’s waterways.

“Everyone was happy that we managed to collect so many photos for our ‘Save River Cam & Our Waterways’ Cambridge digital Y4climatestrike, so fast,” reports council co-chair Nico Roman, aged 11, “and also that it worked even better the second time, when we focused on protecting animals from the impacts of climate change.”

“In the meeting, it was clear that some of our plans and events had to be postponed, but rather than giving up, we simply created new ones. We now have a second eco-council committee alongside the committee that comes up with creative themes for our local strikes. It is the eco-activities committee, and we had our very first meeting, with over 10 schools, this week. We are organizing two things during the lockdown.

“First, we are posting a Cambridge Eco-challenge online every fortnight, on our website blog.

“The first one is live, and will run from Saturday, May 11 to Saturday, May 25. Since the green waste bins are no longer being collected due to the pandemic, our eco-challenge is for kids to build a green waste composter - big or small, for gardens, balconies, or even just windowsills. They can take photos of the design, build and completed project, with themselves in it, and write a short blog entry, then send it to us at cambschoolsecocouncil@gmail.com. We will post their project online, and a panel of community leader judges - we’ll announce who is on the panel soon - has asked to judge them, in order to award Eco-Challenge gold, silver and bronze certificates to the best student entries and to their schools.

“Second, we are organizing a mini-series of eco-seminars online for students and any kids stranded by the Covid-19 pandemic lock-down. Each online eco-seminar will be 90 minutes long, and each one is about global and global solutions to a wicked sustainable development problem. The new eco-seminars will be held every second Tuesday from 5pm to 6.30pm during the lockdown, and kids, families and members of the public can register to participate over Eventbrite, then login on zoom for the eco-seminar. We are inviting kids to speak, too, just like our climate strikes. For the first one on April 21, just before Earth Day, we will focus on climate change.

“Jona David from Winchester College who is a UN Voices of Future Generations Child Author and Cambridge Schools Eco-Council founder, and Virginia Denmead from St Bede’s who is an Eco-Council deputy chair are confirmed to speak. We are also inviting two adult experts to speak. The second one on May 5 will focus on food systems and agriculture, just like our May online climate strike. Magnus Bramwell from Netherhall School who is Cambridge Schools Eco-Council’s Secretary is confirmed to speak, and we are also inviting adult experts from the University of Cambridge and The Living Labs. The whole programme will go live on our website next week – it should be very exciting.

“Anyway – these are just some of the things that we are planning for the community during the lock-down, to keep ourselves active and aware, and not despair or get all anxious and depressed!”

A green waste composter is a large container (usually but not necessarily plastic) for “green” waste, also known as “biological waste”, ie any organic waste that can be composted. It is most usually composed of refuse from gardens such as grass clippings or leaves, and domestic or industrial kitchen wastes - but not dried leaves or straw.



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