REDUCE MY WASTE, FEEDING THE EARTH IN EUROPEAN SCHOOLS
Educational cooperation is one of the axes on which the Erasmus Plus program is built, and the promotion of good practices and pedagogical innovation are among its priorities.
We are fully involved in this framework through our environmental education project “Reducing my waste, feeding the earth in European schools”. The European dimension of our project provides an opportunity for schools across Europe to contribute to the goal set by the UNESCO Chair in Environmental Education and Sustainable Development, which is to make education a driving force in equipping young people with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes necessary to meet the interrelated global challenges we face.
Indeed, quality education is essential to addressing contemporary environmental challenges, as illustrated by its inclusion in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4). Improving the quality of education would therefore further align European schools with the global effort to achieve these goals for a more sustainable future. The current context also shows how important it is to give students reliable information about the importance of responsible behavior and respect for our environments.
At a time when the impact of human activity on the environment is becoming increasingly worrying, the reduction of household waste represents a major issue in terms of environment and health, but also of economy. Volumes to be managed have been growing steadily for decades. This increase is due to population growth, changes in lifestyles and consumption.
Although landfilling has long been the most common solution, since it is the least expensive method of treating waste, it is now considered a last resort. Waste incineration is subject to stringent standards because pollutants released into the atmosphere can increase the risk of cancer and reject greenhouse gases, thus participating in climate change.
Composting and worm composting: a solution for organic waste
More and more initiatives are being taken by communities to encourage the composition of kitchen and garden waste. Organic matter degrades in the presence of oxygen and microorganisms to stabilize and provide soil fertilizers. Some schemes even encourage individuals and schools to equip themselves with lumbricomposters. Earthworms supplement and accelerate the decomposition of kitchen waste.
The need for education
While there may be divergent views on how best to treat our waste, there is a consensus among experts, politicians and associations that behaviour must evolve! For this, education programmes are needed. It is in this field, education, that the “Reducing My Waste, Feeding the Earth” program takes place.
OUR ASSOCIATION AND OUR METHODOLOGY
As a UNESCO club member, Passerelles Info develops educational curricula aimed at promoting education for health and sustainable development. In particular, the programme entitled Réduire mes déchets, nourrir la Terre (Reducing my waste, feeding the Earth), mobilises 75,000 teachers in France and elsewhere (Spain, Italy, Portugal, Canada etc.).
On a voluntary basis, teachers and their trainers benefit from easy-to-use and turnkey educational resources and training. Teacher’s guides are available online and printed copies are sent free of charge to teachers after registration on the web platform. Passerelles’s pedagogical method is effective and innovative, putting the pupil at the heart of the learning process by encouraging him or her to build knowledge with the teacher in an interactive way.
The program Reducing my waste, feeding the Earth focuses on selective sorting and reducing waste at source, allowing students to study soils and some of their inhabitants such as earthworms, phenomena such as composting and vermicomposting... based on the principle that the best waste is the one that is not created, the program aims to change behaviours from childhood onwards through education. This method has been validated by numerous studies, surveys and evaluations published in scientific journal, and have shown very encouraging results in terms of improved student knowledge and, above all, changes in behaviour.
In addition to its education programmes, PASSERELLES.INFO has contributed to "Don't Waste Our Future!" an educational and awareness-raising project for young Europeans and local authorities that ran from 2015 to 2017, involving seven European countries (Belgium, Cyprus, France, Italy, Portugal, Scotland and Spain). The various educational activities, led by students, raised awareness among 2,800 young people and 160 teachers and resulted in a European Youth Charter against Food Waste.
After this international experience, Passerelles.info is considering to extend RWFE to European countries. Namely, the project "Reduce my Waste, Feeding the Earth in European Schools" aims to study the transferability of the methodology described above. The target group of the project is primary school pupils (3-12 years old).
Passerelles.info hopes to work on this project in partnership with European organizations. Within the framework of a possible partnership, two specific objectives seem to be able to be pursued through the multidisciplinary educational programme RWFE:
- Conducting waste management education in European schools
- To promote cooperation between schools from different European countries
TRACKS / OBJECTIVES OF A PARTNERSHIP
Objective 1: To carry out a waste management action in European schools
- Running the transferability study of the RWFE education programme in European schools
- Two groups of classes participating in the transferability study:
- An active group, which will implement the activities. Teachers in this group will receive the guide, and their pupils will benefit from awareness and education sessions.
Some of the teachers will be trained (active group 1) - 3 to 6 hours of training - and assisted by trainers if necessary during the implementation of the activities, and another part (active group 2) will be self-trained, without external intervention.
- A control group. Teachers and students will not benefit from training or awareness, and will not carry out activities related to the educational programme.
In France, 80% of the teachers use the guide without training, and 99% of the teachers and trainers believe that the guide is self-training: it can be interesting to see if this advantage (self-training) is verified in other countries in Europe.
- Selection of teachers who will agree to participate in the study as members of the control group and members of the active group.
- Providing compensation for teachers of the control group: e.g., provision of the RWFE teachers guide the following year
- Publication of the teacher's guide in the language of each partner’s country.
- Organization of the distribution (paper/digital support?): if the paper version is chosen, ensure the printing and distribution of the guides
- Production and distribution of UV papers
- Organisation of training sessions for the active group 1
- Promotion and follow-up of the project, by setting up a web platform dedicated to the project
- Assessment of the project and its results.
Pre-assessment: assessment before the start of the project to determine the state of knowledge about solar risks and behaviour in all classes (control and active groups).
Post-assessment: assessment at the end of the project to determine the state of knowledge and behavior in all classes (control and active groups), after the project has been carried out.
The assessment can take the form of questionnaires.
Objective 2: Promote cooperation between European schools
- The transferability study will be carried out on comparable samples by local teams and associations in each country
- Organisation of virtual exchanges between classes of pupils and teachers from the schools of each country
- Organisation of joint training courses
- Translation of the educational resources developed into all the languages of the countries involved for mutual enrichment
- Sharing of the results of the transferability study at European level
- Creation of a dedicated platform to ensure this coordination and exchange at all levels of the project