As the world is starting to realize that we are in the midst of a climate crisis, major economies are pushing ahead to reduce carbon emissions. As an international school, the College has pledged to play its part, and Earth Day is a great reminder of our collective responsibilities.

Dulwich College Beijing (DCB) is founded with the vision for our students to live worldwise. Sustainability and global citizenship are embedded in our curriculum and operations across our whole organisation. One of our missions is to encourage our community to make informed choices, take inspired action and make positive impacts at individual, group and global levels.

 

Raising collective awareness at school

Thursday 22 April was a valuable opportunity for the College (and the wider world) to acknowledge Earth Day and reflect on what we are already doing well with regards to sustainability and how we can do even better. Each school engaged its students in a vast array of activities as sampled below.

In Early Years, the World Earth Day assembly was led by the Year 1 children and teachers. It was based on the book Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years. The Year 1 students acted out the book and reminded everyone of the important role that we all play in restoring our planet. Although the Earth is 4.54 billion years old, we, humans, have caused immense damage to our planet in the short time that we’ve called it home. The students then shared posters with messages encouraging everyone to take action to help our world.

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Junior School had a day-long House event devoted to Go Green for Your House with each House was challenged to collaborate and create a collective piece of art with an environmental theme.

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The Sustainability Prefects and SDG Club leaders took action to further promote sustainable development within Senior School. Activities included testing students’ knowledge on SDG topics, selling sustainability-related products, and the creation and distribution of useful  resources such a seasonal eating calendar for Beijing, a sustainable recipe book and an Earth Week overview booklet!

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Our Key Stage 3 students also had the opportunity to attend an online presentation by Huang Hongxiang, a passionate animal conservationist and sustainable development activist, who started the organisation China House to make a positive difference in the world. He shared his experiences about getting involved in sustainable development and tips for young people interested in doing the same.

But sustainability is not limited to Earth Day at DCB! Chaired by our Senior School Sustainability Prefect, the DCB Sustainability committee includes students and staff representatives. The committee meets every term to discuss the sustainable projects and initiatives happening or yet to happen across the whole college. In the past years, the committee has witnessed significant efforts and improvements made by the entire DCB community, not only in our school’s daily operations but more crucially, in providing our students with opportunities to engage in sustainability-centred initiatives through a global citizenship lens, to understand how to confront the challenges of today and move into the future with solutions, especially when it comes to consumption.

 

Environmentally responsible food consumption

The DCB Sustainability Committee joined forces with our foodservice provider Sodexo to offer more sustainable, yet nutritious, menu options. Producing plant-based meat as a source of proteins uses 78% less water and creates 96% less carbon emissions than producing pork. So, in terms of carbon emissions saving, replacing 1000 kg of pork with plant-based meat is equivalent to planting 192 trees.

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Plant-based meat dishes          

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Food waste monitoring board to remind everyone to be cautious with food

 

To celebrate Earth Day on 22 April, DCB’s Senior School students and staff enjoyed an all-vegetarian lunch, with the lasagna even being rated by some as being better than the traditional meat-based version!

Each class also enjoyed the eco-pencil gift from Sodexo, which can be planted after being used for writing. All classes across DCB schools will have a chance to participate or witness the growth of these sustainable green decorations in the coming days.

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Plant-based meat dishes 

 

Environmentally responsible resources management

DCB’s operations sustainability efforts went way beyond the canteen or Earth Day!

In line with the idea of teaspoons of change, Earth Day offered an opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of reducing electricity consumption, and therefore less CO2 emissions. On that day, students and staff took turns and switched lights off for one hour in all classrooms and offices that received enough natural light.  

Back in 2012, we started to replace standard lighting with energy-saving lights that illuminate the entire campus. Now we go one step further and start using solar energy lights. Currently, solar energy lights up about half the campus, and we will soon be fully illuminated by natural sustainable energy. Additionally, auto-censoring lights were installed in classrooms so that when students are off by the end of school days, lights turn off automatically. Auto-censoring lighting has proven to be successful and efficient, and it will be implemented across different classrooms shortly. DCB is one of the first schools in Beijing to implement such a sustainable lighting system.

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DCB in general is very aware and cautious of the type of resources being consumed for daily operations. As part of the sustainable energy initiatives, in a span of five years, eleven green buses gradually joined the DCB school bus fleet and have been saving energy while working on a daily basis. Recycled water has been used to irrigate all the greenery and gardens in DCB. Thirty-one hand dryers are currently being installed in restrooms across the College to reduce the consumption of hand paper towels.

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Green school bus, Recycled water for irrigation, Hand dryer replacing single use towels                                     

 

Environmentally responsible collective efforts

The sustainability initiative cannot be carried out to such an extent without the support of the entire DCB community. For a few years already, DCB does not provide plastic bottled beverages or disposable packaging for food. Students and staff are encouraged to use sustainable water bottles. We have started to install sustainable water fountains as a part of the encouragement. Staff is advised to be cautious when using lamination for teaching or any other scenarios. Posters or flyers that can be found publicly on campus are not allowed to be laminated. All of these initiatives are our collective efforts to reduce the consumption of plastic and to encourage our students as well as community members to be more responsible and respectful global citizens for the planet that we live on.

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Water fountain on campus, Non-laminated poster or flyer, with the option of flyer holder for more ones in longer usage

 

We believe we have the power to create change through educating our students. We set examples and inspire others, within and beyond our school boundaries. Our message is that we can all do something - just one small action such as switching off lights, eating more vegetarian meals or reducing print materials, if repeated by many people, can have an enormous impact.