By Mrs. Claire Gilbert, Supervisor of the Green Council
Promoting a Green ethos at Green Valley
This year at Green Valley, we have had a big drive on promoting environmental issues and encouraging a green ethos amongst our whole school community. We set up an Environmental Strategic group of Teachers, our Green Council of committed students and “Green matters”, a group for the whole community to become part of. We have had a highly successful first year. Our Green Matters website is administered by Mahiro, our Senior Eco-rep. We also have a Facebook and Instagram account and publish a monthly Green Matters Newsletter. We are encouraging sustainable consumption through our online second-hand store and Eco-shop. We have introduced a wide range of environmental initiatives and projects as we progress towards the Eco-school’s award.
The Eco-schools Award
Independent research has found evidence of the positive impacts of the Eco-schools Programme on pupils, including increased confidence, development of leadership skills, improved pupil well-being and behaviour and greater motivation at school. As well as the pupil benefits, which have a hugely positive effect on the whole school community, GV will benefit from reducing our environmental impact. A key element is an involvement of pupils in the whole process, including monitoring, action planning and decision-making, leading to ownership and an increased sense of responsibility to the environment and the local area.
The Environmental Strategic group
The Environmental Strategic group at GV consists of a mix of Primary and Secondary teachers, passionate about environmental issues and determined to make St Andrews GV a great Eco-school. Mrs Gilbert and Ms Ferrier supervise the Primary and Secondary Green Council, Mrs Kinsella and Khun Noo run eco craft activities each week, Ms Ginny gardens with the primary school, Mr Ben runs Forest school and composting, Khun Noo is creating recycling opportunities, Mrs Thiery is organising our GV Beach Cleans, Mrs Gilbert and Ms Ginny also worked on a school-wide growing community project with Hand to Hand and our CAS students. The objectives of the group are to achieve the Schools Eco Award- Gold level whilst delivering integrated whole school initiatives showcasing Green Valley as an inspirational Eco-school. In doing so we aim to improve student and staff well being through a connection with the natural environment and inspire our students to go out into the world and be the change.
The Green Council
Launched in 2020, the Green Council, consisting of members from Years 4 up to 12 worked together to make Green Valley even greener through spreading the active mind towards the local climate and environment.
The Councils met every week to address and discuss the challenges which helped them decide on action plans to work towards.
At the start of the year, students carried out the Environmental Audit which helped them evaluate the current outlook on environmental issues and sustainability. Those actions included offering opportunities for student and community engagement in Eco Activities such as the Eco Bricks Challenge and Tetra Pack/Milk bottle collection, and Earth Day Celebration where students contributed to the Earth Day Selfie Wall and a Mangrove Fundraiser (the GV community made donations to plant more than 230 mangrove trees in Rayong and Sattahip) to help tackle the deforestation issue on a national scale.
Utilising the Green Matters Website, the GV Green Newsletter and other social platforms enabled frequent engagement where students were encouraged to join the Green Matters movement and take actions themselves.
Overall, the Green Council has taken a big step towards making an impact on the way Green Valley approaches a global environmental issue by raising awareness of and fostering community actions towards sustainability and building eco-minded ethos among fellow students.
Whole school action
GV gardening projects
Gardening projects continue to offer great outdoor learning experiences. In the first term students, in primary and secondary, grew vegetables that were transferred down to Hand to Hand community garden by students in Year 12.
We are now focusing on extending the Primary Garden area with terraced flower and vegetable beds behind the garden hut. The school fence will be covered with
Ceylon spinach seedlings which the children have grown from seeds.
Next academic year we will be promoting continuing stewardship with the introduction of Island community allotments in the Giving and Primary gardens for students to grow their own produce
GV Beach Cleans
November saw the GV beach clean team out in force, clearing litter from Namrin Beach. We were out again in the heat of April where 3 truckloads of trash were removed from Payoon Beach. Such action aims to Spread Awareness and increase wellbeing through meaningful and social activity. This activity involved community and students from all ages (Nursery to IB). Well done to everyone who was involved.
Our action plan aims to educate and provide opportunities for recycling at GV. So far we have run several recycling campaigns in school: Eco bricks, Tetrapak, milk bottles, soap from used oil and plastic bits have been recycled. The Ecobrock challenge was completed with the Youth club using the bricks to make furniture as a STEM project.
This year we have set up a composting area where green waste can be processed to become new soil which can be used in the gardens and flower beds. So far we have cleared the site and purchased a mulcher. The concept of composting has been introduced through forest school and we are encouraging responsible use of garden waste, with our gardeners burning less. Students can see the positive change in soil structures and biodiversity during lessons.
Our “Green Christmas” Eco stall - raised over 4000 baht for further eco projects. We have introduced an online second-hand market and eco shop on the GV Green Matters website. weekly Eco Activities have taken place where students learned the skill of upcycling and producing sustainable products (including soap from recycled oil, notebooks from recycled paper, and lanterns made from food-cans and bottles). Future projects will encourage students to make beeswax paper and planters from jars and twigs. Students are practicing the skill of setting up and running an ethical business whilst educating other students and parents to reduce, recycle, reuse, repurpose- to consume more sustainably.
By Axelle (Year 9)
Since 1970, Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22, and this year was no different.
Despite being online, the GV community came together and contributed to joining millions of others across the world celebrating this year's Earth Day with the theme of “Restore Our Earth”!
Why is Earth day so important?
Earth day raises awareness and educates us about environmental issues. It also reminds us of how beautiful our earth is and how important it is that we take care of it.
What action did our community take?
To celebrate Earth Day this year, we asked people for photos of themselves in nature to produce the GV Earth Day Virtual Selfie Wall, and we made a video to showcase everyone's pictures.
Archive of our celebration can be found on our website: https://gvgreenmatters.weebly.com/earth-day-2021.html
But we did not stop there.
We started fundraising to plant Mangrove Trees.
So far we have raised enough money to plant 232 trees, and we sincerely thank all that contributed. ! Students, staff and parents were also able to sell unwanted items on our GV Online Second-Hand shop on our website to raise money and give the objects a second life.
Although the Earth Day 2021 is over, here is an important reminder: there are many things you can do to keep the theme going.
Here are some ideas, just to name a few:
-Keep selling unwanted items on the GV Online Second-Hand shop
-Keep educating yourself and raising awareness
Thank you to everyone who took part in this year's Earth Day, and we look forward to next year’s celebration!
-The GV Green Team
by Ms. Hannah Smith (Outdoor Education Lead)
Nature is not a luxury (Rowland, 2021), it should be seen as important to our life as the air we breathe. As one of the greatest untapped resources of physical and mental well-being (Rowland,2021), today I prescribe you a dose of nature. Following Mental Health awareness week, with its theme of nature; re-highlighting the importance nature has on our well-being.
It wasn’t until about 5 generations ago that human beings began to separate themselves from the rhythms and patterns of nature through an increase in technology. No longer do the cities go dark when the sun falls below the horizon, we just switch on the lights in our homes. No longer does the world go quiet when we say goodnight, we just pick up our phones.
Most people have experienced jet lag before, often it is a very noticeable effect on our body as we have put it through significant change. However, on a day to day basis, our own internal biological clock is affected by the false rhythms the artificial world brings us. We often sleep far too late, and cannot wake at sunrise. This is because our circadian rhythm is affected by artificial light that triggers our body to produce the wrong level of proteins at different times of the day. The artificial world can also alter our circadian rhythms for eating and digesting, and our body temperature (National Institute of General Medical Science, 2021).
The Japanese tradition of forest bathing, otherwise known as Shinrin-yoku, began to make a worldwide statement in the 1980s, by its purpose of an eco-antidote to the tech boom and for people to reconnect with and protect nature (Fitzgerald, 2019). Research has shown that this form of ecotherapy has an effect on lowering heart rate, reducing stress hormones, and lower respiratory rate to name a few. There is also evidence through MRI images of the brain that nature can make us nicer as well as calmer. In addition to this, a Dutch research programme found less incidences of 15 diseases of people living within half a mile of green spaces, such as asthma, diabetes and migraines (Williams, n.d.).
Adventure therapy is similar to forest bathing but also incorporates adventurous activities as well as a natural surrounding as part of their experiential psychotherapeutic approach to facilitate therapeutic change in people (Kyriakopoulos, 2011). A lot of research on the benefits of adventure therapy has been done with people who are suffering from anxiety and depression. Including adventure and nature as part of the therapeutic process increases interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships, providing a personal space for inner healing.
Nature deficit disorder is a term coined by Richard Louv in 2005 through a book ‘The Last Child in the Woods’ about the negative effects that one experiences when they do not get enough time in nature. Research since this publication has supported the notion of nature deficit disorder, that less frequent exposure to nature contributes to diminishing the use of the senses, attention difficulties, obesity, and higher rates of physical and emotional illness (Louv, 2019). To combat this, evidence suggests that the ‘total exposure is important, all forms and quantities are helpful’ (Kuo, 2013).
More and more people are turning to nature to regenerate their well-being; such as, Dave Cornthwaite author of ‘Life in the Slow lane: a patient quest for adventure’, Nick Ray on the BBC talked about how sea kayaking helped his recovery from depression, and our very own guest speaker form the Be Well Day 2019, Jake Tyler, who is author of ‘A walk from the wild edge: a journey of self-discovery and human connection’.
Yet I do not wish for us to wait till we need nature to heal us, I wish for us to use nature every day to stop ourselves from needing to be healed. Just like brushing our teeth twice a day to avoid a cavity, or drinking water so we do not get dehydrated. Nature calms us, nature makes us kinder, nature helps prevent us from disease. We need nature.
So my prescription to you is:
by Maisie Gilbert (Year 7)
As you know, students are currently learning online due to this global pandemic but the Secondary Green Council won’t let that stop us from taking action.
We have had meetings every Thursday lunchtime throughout online learning to discuss plans and actions going forward. We have divided ourselves into three groups, each working on three targets.
The first group is led by Mahiro Noda (Year 12) and is working on producing the Gv Green Newsletter (this one that you are reading now!) to create a space where you can read further about what the Green Council does, and other various eco-projects run as part of the GV Green Matters initiative.
Although we already have a website (https://gvgreenmatters.weebly.com/), we thought making the newsletter would make information more accessible to those who want to learn further. The group is excited to offer you more information and updates as we progress forward.
The second group is the Growing Group led by Florence Gilbert (Year 10). This group strives to have enough saplings of different fruits and vegetables to put in the tree nursery at school then, later on, sell them to raise money to fund further Green Council projects. They are beginning to grow things such as mangos, peppers, papaya, avocado and more, and we will be sharing the updates from the group in the near future.
The third group, led by Shantel Jubilan and Eva Gerkema (Year 12), aims to unify the Green Council by creating uniforms that we can wear at Green Council events and days of meetings. The team has started working on designing the shirt which will be made using recycled plastic from the ocean. Each T-shirt would remove a kilogram of plastic compared to using non-recycled materials, and that way we will help the environment whilst connecting the Green Council students as a group.
By Helena Colpaert (Year 8)
“We’re beginning to make some real progress.”
- Joe Biden, 2021
Throughout the eight sessions over the span of two days, the US President Biden convened heads of states and governments, as well as leaders and representatives from international organizations, businesses, subnational governments, and indigenous communities to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis, demonstrate the economic opportunities of the future, and affirm the need for unprecedented global cooperation and ambition to meet the moment.
The US has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 50-52% below its 2005 level by 2030.
President convened the summit to urge global cooperation on climate change.
“We’re beginning to make some real progress.” Biden told leaders during the summit.
Thailand was represented at the US Earth Day Summit by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-Archa, who discussed Thailand's vulnerability to climate change and measures it has taken within its agricultural economy.
Smaller countries, such as Chile and Norway, are more ambitious. Rwanda is also setting the pace in climate protection. In May, the East African country became the first on the continent to announce that it would tighten its climate targets and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 16% by 2030.
Reacting to the Summit, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, said:
“The global climate change emergency is a clear, present and growing danger to all people on this planet. It recognizes no borders and while nations may be impacted differently, none are immune. This is a time for leadership, courage and solidarity by global leaders; a time they must make the tough decisions necessary to finally fulfil the promises of the Paris Agreement and move the world away from disaster and towards an unprecedented era of growth, prosperity and hope for all.”
The 18-year-old Swedish Climate Activist Greta Thunberg also made an appearance accusing world leaders of stealing her dreams and her childhood by their inaction on climate change, she opened her speech to the General Assembly with an impassioned introduction, which was widely covered by the media.
"This is all wrong.” The leaders listened in awe to her speech.
The Summit, hosted by U.S. President Biden, which brought together more than 40 nations representing 80% of global emissions, is an encouraging and positive step in the right direction.
We congratulate the commitments shown by several nations at the summit!
This of course is great growth but not enough.
We also have to work together, not leave it to the big guys to finish the job.
If you would like to learn more about the summit and see what promises were made, please make time to explore more using the links below:
Living Reporting of the Summit- BBC
Biden’s climate summit zeroes in on technology to help fight global warming- Reuters
FACT SHEET: President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate- The White House