Sustainability Through Circular Economy: The Potential at ISKL
This article has been slightly amended and was initially written by ISKL's High School (HS) Service & Sustainability Team.
Last month, the K - 12 Service and Sustainability Coordinators and some High School (HS) teachers attended a workshop led by Mr. Harbir Gill, known as 'H,' who is our ISKL "Gardener-in-Residence" this semester, and the Teaching & Learning Department.
The sessions began with a visit to the composting shed on campus by the beautiful small park with a pond and fountain near the Elementary School (ES) entrance. The participants were shown how to make a compost pile with leaves and food remnants. The basic compost 'recipe' requires carbon ('the 'Browns'), nitrogen ('the Greens'), water, and heat. These come from fallen leaves, weeds, other plant material from various campus parts, food waste from the canteens, and the rain and sun in Malaysia.
'H' enthusiastically showed how these could 'cook' in nature, with a bit of TLC from us. As with most things organic that we try to grow and harvest, he says that we need to develop a 'relationship' with our compost!
Then the group had a Middle School (MS) rooftop garden tour, teeming with kitchen herbs, little aubergines, tomatoes, and okra that follow the blossoming of their beautiful, colorful flowers. Helping these vegetables grow through pollination is the bees that visit these pretty flowers.
Representatives from a beekeeping company called Melipoly came and enlightened us on the life of stingless bees in their colonies. There is a lot of drama that goes on there with the queen bee and the entire hierarchical structure - and, as they say, truth is stranger or more fascinating than fiction! Wouldn't it be wonderful to have our beehives at school and enjoy the honey from them? This is an idea that is brewing now.
There was also a lesson to be learned from a chicken farm called DQ Clean Chicken. This was a real eye-opener for the educators who attended the session. In our busy daily routines, we may not always be aware of commercial, industrial practices that need to become more locally and globally sustainable. For example, did you know that many chickens in Malaysia are fed with corn and grains imported from North America? Some farmers here discovered that they do not need to be eating imported food and instead turned to native sources of nutritious food options, ranging from bananas to black soldier fly (BSF) larvae. So, a company called BETSOL that processes BSF larvae for both farm animals and human consumption educated us on another circular economy model.
Yes, why not invest in these local, sustainable business models that are healthier for all! This is the kind of paradigm shift that is needed now to help save our planet.
The sessions ended with a fabulous lunch catered by the school kitchen, using some garden harvests! It was so delicious and wonderful to know that we could become self-sufficient in the future!
Do check out the chalkboard by the ATM to find out the latest herbs and vegetables that you can harvest from the edible garden across from there, or take a short trip to the MS rooftop garden if you have some time to spare on campus!
Our earlier article featured our school's community 'edible' garden and the importance of naming animals and plants (see Dr. Jane Goodall's work here). Let us learn more names of the plants that we already have at school to get to know them and broaden our knowledge base on sustainability and circular economy to become a more self-sufficient, sustainable 'Zero Waste' community.
We can do so much right here with what we already have driven by our school's vision and mission of sustainability, and the plans to further develop the next steps.