Words Sawsan Abou Fakhreddine
The project’s name, “THE 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) MOBILE SCHOOL,” encapsulates its main idea: spreading awareness in different regions through the use of a mobile unit.
Solid waste management is a major environmental issue of our times. It is constantly compelling societies to come up with sustainable solutions to address the manifold impacts that this sector has on communities and the environment. It undoubtedly represents one of Lebanon’s greatest challenges.
Solid waste management in Lebanon reached a crisis point during the summer of 2015. The lack of long-term solutions to waste management led to the piling up of trash in much of Beirut and Mount Lebanon. Over eight months have passed, and yet the crisis continues despite the rescue plan developed by the government and the civil society pressure. The need for greater awareness and behavioral changes is the common denominator among the various solutions proposed by the civil society groups, experts in the field, and the government institutions.
Informing individuals of their role in the waste management cycle is necessary for an efficient solution to the waste crisis. Environmental education is a powerful tool for delivering key messages to young children and teenagers. That’s why Green Cedar Lebanon (GCL) and the Association for Forests, Development and Conservation (AFDC) have collaborated together to produce an innovative approach to spread awareness of solid waste management among Lebanon’s children and youth. This initiative has been applauded by the governor of the BDL, Mr. Riad Salameh, who encourages all green initiatives.
Increasing youth awareness
The project’s name, “THE 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) MOBILE SCHOOL,” encapsulates its main idea: spreading awareness in different regions through the use of a mobile unit. Specifically, the project aims to increase awareness among youth, especially school children, of the concepts of reducing and minimizing waste generation, reusing waste whenever possible, and the importance of recycling solid waste. The project’s innovative approach lies in the use of a mobile unit to deliver the appropriate awareness message to children throughout Lebanon. The advantage of the mobile unit is its flexibility and ability to reach faraway regions in less time and with little to no preparation needed on the part of the targeted beneficiaries. Moreover, the mobile unit enables other community members beyond the schools to be engaged within the awareness sessions as a result of the flexibility of its setup. Therefore, the project will be able to influence entire communities, with special emphasis on schools and the youth. The project fosters informal education processes that are increasingly being recognized as an important component of the sound and solid education to which one is entitled.
The mobile unit
The mobile unit itself is a bus that’s been completely revamped from the inside out. The outside of the unit will feature a colorful design conveying the all-important reduce/reuse/recycle message. As such, the message will be diffused passively to a large audience as the bus passes from one area to the other. On the inside, the bus will be divided into three main sections. Each section provides easily understandable material on how to reduce waste generation, how to make use of generated waste, and how used materials can be transformed through recycling into useful objects on which we depend for our daily lives.
The mobile unit will visit schools within various regions, stopping within each region for a day. During that time, the students will be able to explore the inside section of the unit through self-guided walks and with the support of trained monitors. In addition, the monitors will engage in various activities tailored to the tastes and needs of the schoolchildren’s age groups. These activities will be carried out within the school premises using material and equipment brought by the mobile unit. These activities include:
• Kindergarten students: The activities will focus on storytelling, coloring, and puzzle games. These activities will teach young children about the various waste categories in a simple manner.
• First educational cycle: The activities will include interactive video sessions and coloring. Children will learn about the impact of inefficient waste management, using plastic as an example. In addition, they will understand more the different solid waste categories to increase their ability to sort waste.
• Second educational cycle:
The activities will focus on interactive videos and presentations, waste sorting games, and paper recycling. Children will learn how much resources go into the products that we use in our daily life and how to restore some of these resources, such as paper. Moreover, they will learn how to sort the different waste categories and understand more how each category is managed.
• Third educational cycle:
The activities will focus on interactive video sessions and creative use of waste. The students will learn how to reduce waste in their daily life and use their creative imagination to make useful items or artworks from common waste items.
• Fourth educational cycle:
The activities will focus on interactive video sessions and easily applicable recycling options. The students will learn the importance of recycling processes and will be instructed on how to conduct composting at the school, thereby reducing the accumulation of organic waste.
In addition to the aforementioned activities, the mobile unit has a mini-library. It contains a small collection of environmental books and magazines to be put at the disposal of children during the day of the visit. Interactive activity guidebooks will be shared with the teachers for further involvement of students in informal learning processes that serve to cultivate a sense of environmental stewardship among the youth.