Year 10 students at St Andrew’s College, Marayong, have taken up Pope Francis’ call to care for their common home – their school.
Using the Pope’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, students have come up with practical solutions as to how they can make their school more environmentally conscious.
The group of 30 students were given a crash course in the encyclical and some of its key goals by Andrew Wilson from the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta Mission Team as part of a reflection day.
During the first part of the day, students explored a number of global issues facing our world, such as climate change, waste, drought and bushfires, which were then put into a Western Sydney context.
After completing an environmental audit of the school, the students then workshopped initiatives that could help them live out Laudato Si’.
“God gave us this world, we need to look after it,” school Vice Captain Lou-Donald told Catholic Outlook.
Lou-Donald explained that his group looked at organic recycling and food wastage, and suggested planting a garden on school grounds that could be used by the school’s food technology classes.
“It would be a great source of food, and if we grow more fresh produce, we are not spending money on groceries. We hope to also open up the garden to the local community,” he said.
Another group looked into heat and energy waste, based off information from the website World Weather Today that Western Sydney was the hottest place on Earth in the 2020 summer. They looked into the purchasing of more solar panels to help reduce the school’s energy consumption and adding extra shade coverage to reduce heat exposure on the playground.
“We also thought it would be nice to plant more trees at school to produce more shelter,” School Captain Sabrina said. “Each year group can plant a new tree, and that year group look after the tree and can see the growth of the tree over the years.”
Another group suggested phasing out single-use plastics in the school canteen, encouraging students to bring their own containers and make them more conscious of their food waste.
Fellow student, Bishoy, appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with his classmates on how they can look after their school.
“During the day, we learnt about the issues around the world that are due to climate change, and how the ecosystem has been impacted by our selfish actions.
“We kept getting drawn back to this same point – if we treat the environment bad, it will treat us in the same way.
“Our school is already doing a recycling program, with the money we get from the refund program going towards programs for education in Timor-Leste.
“I believe we have the ability to change if we take the right steps,” he said.