Cam­paigner in­spires school to be plas­tic-free

Stel­lar re­sponse from GEMS Mod­ern Academy pushes Gina Fer­nan­des to up her fight against waste

Gulf News - - NATION -

An en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paigner has in­spired a Dubai school in its mis­sion to go plas­tic-free and plans to en­cour­age oth­ers to­wards sus­tain­abil­ity as well.

Gina Fer­nan­des, an In­dian graph­ics de­signer in Dubai, re­cently raised con­ser­va­tion aware­ness among the stu­dents at GEMS Mod­ern Academy. The pri­vate school has done away with dis­pos­able plas­tic cups and bags. In­stead, stu­dents and staff carry their own wa­ter bot­tles, while text­books are handed out in jute bags de­signed by the school.

Fer­nan­des started reach­ing out to the UAE com­mu­nity about en­vi­ron­ment care af­ter see­ing images of a suf­fer­ing beached whale in Nor­way that was put down be­cause of plas­tic waste chok­ing its guts. She was also shocked to learn about the Great Pa­cific Garbage Patch, a float­ing mass of plas­tic waste larger than Mex­ico.

Aware­ness through art

Be­ing an artist, Fer­nan­des started an in­for­mal “aware­ness through art” cam­paign to high­light the UN Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goal (SDG) 14, which calls to “con­serve and sus­tain­ably use the oceans, seas and ma­rine re­sources for sus­tain­able devel­op­ment”.

At GEMS Mod­ern Academy, she was joined by stu­dents, par­ents and staff in cre­at­ing a mu­ral of a whale us­ing 5,000 plas­tic bot­tle caps, col­lected by hun­dreds of pupils from their homes over two weeks.

“It’s a sculpture ded­i­cated to all the whales and fish that have died be­cause of our trash and care­less­ness,” Fer­nan­des said.

“It’s a call for aware­ness — let us be cog­nisant of what we are con­sum­ing and how we deal with waste. Let us ed­u­cate our­selves and our chil­dren; they are our fu­ture and we owe it to our­selves to start mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.

“I want to leave a seed of re­al­i­sa­tion that what we do has con­se­quences. We are not sep­a­rate from the en­vi­ron­ment — we are the en­vi­ron­ment … What we put in the ocean comes back onto our plate.”

Fer­nan­des thanked the GEMS Mod­ern Academy com­mu­nity for sup­port­ing her cam­paign. She would like to ap­proach more schools and es­tab­lish­ments now, in­spired by the re­sponse from GEMS Mod­ern Academy.

“A lot of par­ents lis­ten to their chil­dren; their voices are more pow­er­ful than we think, es­pe­cially when they are en­thu­si­as­tic about mak­ing a dif­fer­ence,” Fer­nan­des said.

Nar­gish Kham­batta, prin­ci­pal of GEMS Mod­ern Academy, said: “Our par­ents have worked very closely with us on a num­ber of sus­tain­abil­ity projects and [Fer­nan­des] in par­tic­u­lar has been driv­ing small but sig­nif­i­cant changes. Since this Septem­ber, we have done away with plas­tic bot­tles com­pletely with the sim­ple slo­gan, ‘Say No to Plas­tic’.”

She added that the school also gave out text­books in jute bags de­signed by the school, re­plac­ing plas­tic bags per­ma­nently.

Kham­batta also high­lighted other ini­tia­tives of the school, in­clud­ing its Sen­so­rial Gar­den project, which in­cludes the col­lec­tion of food and plant waste to pre­pare or­ganic com­post from “Bokashi bins” placed in every KG class. The school has also en­gaged with a com­mu­nity in Hy­der­abad, In­dia to em­power women who make bags of kora cot­ton. What’s more, the school im­ple­mented the Pu­rukal Project where its stu­dents helped build toi­lets for girls in Dehradun, In­dia.

Graph­ics de­signer based in Dubai

Stu­dents of GEMS Mod­ern Academy with a batch of dis­pos­able bot­tle caps col­lected by them from their homes over two weeks. The school has also de­signed jute bags to hold text­books.

Stu­dents put the fin­ish­ing touches to the mu­ral of a whale that was made us­ing 5,000 plas­tic bot­tle caps. The mu­ral was in­spired by images of a beached whale in Nor­way.

Gina Fer­nan­des with the mu­ral of the whale. The graph­ics de­signer worked with stu­dents at GEMS Mod­ern Academy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.