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UAE Schools Pledge To Do Away With Single-Use Before 2024

  • Jan 27, 2023
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 UAE Schools Pledge To Do Away With Single-Use Before 2024

Moving towards a more sustainable future, the UAE has implemented yet another landmark decision for its schools. This month, the government made the announcement that all types of plastic bags will be prohibited in schools as of January 1st, 2024. Before widespread prohibitions are implemented, environmentally conscious schools in the UAE are stepping up their efforts to eliminate single-use plastics. Beginning January 1, 2026, the import of plastic cutlery, drinkware, styrofoam, and packaging will be banned as well.

Students have already jumped on the bandwagon and are saying goodbye to plastic by using and promoting jute bags for shopping, bringing aluminium lunch boxes for tiffins, and even selling organic home-grown goods in their neighbourhood as part of their growing environmental consciousness. The Royal Grammar School Guildford, Dubai, announced this week that it would do away with all single-use plastic by the end of the year. In 2021, Gems Legacy School had already banned single-use plastic.

Schools support the go-green campaign

The Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai has teamed up with Avani, a sustainable packaging business, to assist the school in switching from plastic to alternative bio-based products. Hydroponics has been introduced in schools as well, allowing students to grow herbs for their canteens. The hydroponics programme was also started last year to provide Year 7 students with the opportunity to grow their own salad and herbs. The food is currently used in school lunches, the canteen, and the parent café. Every class has an environmental ambassador as well. In order to inform the public about the negative impacts of plastic on marine life, students from Gems Legacy School are currently building a massive whale out of plastic bottle caps that will be displayed on a beach in Dubai in February.

According to Clare Turnbull, principal of The Royal Grammar School Guildford, Dubai, they aim to remove all single-use plastics by the end of 2023. Clare also mentioned that the drive has come from the kids themselves through the school's Eco Ambassador team. Addressing the introduction of hydroponics, she said that it was a great way to give students the opportunity to learn about the origins of their food and experience the future of tech farming firsthand.

The hydroponics system at the school enables the students to see a plant's complete lifecycle unfold right before their eyes and gain an understanding of the variety of the products they consume.

Environment legacy

Climate literacy has been incorporated into the curriculum at the Gems Legacy School in Dubai. Asha Alexander, executive leader for climate change at Gems Education and head of the Gems Legacy School in Dubai, expressed her hope that single-use plastic would be banned at 41 Gems Education schools by 2023. The messaging, advertising, awareness efforts, and teacher education have already started.

Recently, the students of Gems Legacy Schools ran a campaign on Twitter, asking Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, to outlaw single-use plastic. They have also discouraged the use of single-use plastic bottles on their premises.

The UN has certified 2,000 teachers at Gems Education with UN climate change certification. Ms Alexander hopes to persuade all 17,000 of the group's teachers to do the same.

Students at the school also created jute shopping bags that their parents could use. Ms Alexander stated that they want to teach kids that everyone is accountable for their actions. They try to incorporate an environmentally conscious lifestyle, such as saying no to plastic cutlery or straws while ordering food, to help preserve the environment. The school's students made the decision to stop using plastic lunchboxes and start using aluminium lunchboxes instead.

The principal of Delhi Public School (DPS) Dubai in Jebel Ali, Rashmi Nandkeolyar, also mentioned that her institution was the first in the area to establish a "no-plastic zone" by using jute bags to distribute textbooks and uniforms. She said jute bags have been used in place of plastic bags at DPS, Dubai, since 2013. By introducing the "We Project" in 2018, they advanced the idea and set out to turn used bedsheets and uniforms into eco-friendly bags. In less than six months, kids, parents, teachers, and support staff collaborated to sew 15,000 bags as part of the project. Students at the school have constructed a vertical garden that employs plastic bottles as plant pots and beds. The school offers "Trash to Treasure" projects where students make crafts out of recycled materials and "Nature's Bounty" programs where students sell organic vegetables they have grown themselves to gain practical business and money management experience.

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