Colonel Gray students protest littering, lack of waste reduction at P.E.I. high schools

·2 min read

Meghan Runge wants her high school to take steps toward reducing waste and saving energy.

"We're looking into solutions for how we could be more sustainable."

She was one of about 20 to 30 Colonel Gray High School students protesting littering and climate change inaction during the lunch hour on April 21 – partly in recognition of Earth Day, which is today.

The school's environmental club recently conducted an assessment of its own school to see whether any green improvements could be made. Single-use cutlery in the cafeteria is a concern, and the building's heating should be better regulated rather than left on most of the time, Runge said.

Colonel Gray is heated by Charlottetown's waste-to-energy plant, so upgrading the school's thermostats could be a solution to saving heat.

"It would be nice to not waste so much of that sustainable source," she said. "We share that energy."

The school's bathrooms were also a subject of concern as the urinals automatically flush every 15 minutes when the lights are turned on, which uses about 12 gallons of water. One possible solution would be to install an automatic light system that turns off when nobody's in the room.

"You're using that water for no reason."

The club already presented its findings to the school's principal, and it's preparing a larger presentation to the City of Charlottetown and some local MLAs later this school year that would hopefully involve and apply to more Island schools, Runge said.

Grade 11 student Zachary Preston, another club member, wants all Islanders to be better educated about getting to the root of waste reduction.

"We should be conscious of what we buy."

For example, electric cars may be promoted as being environmentally friendly, but that doesn't necessarily take into account the materials used to make them, such as plastics, or the fuel used to import them. Having full awareness of the products being consumed is key, he said.

"They cure the symptoms; they don't cure the disease."

He's been active in many of the club's initiatives this year, which focused on education sessions and initiatives such as neighbourhood clean-ups and encouraging the use of reusable grocery bags.

Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian