Tuesday, September 9, 2008
The joke that grew into a school forest
MOST Sydney schools have vegetable patches, rainwater tanks or solar panels, but the students of Ascham School are sure they are the only ones with their own eco-forest.
The brainchild of a year 11 student, Sarah Cohn, the forest, hopefully, will eventually be big enough to completely offset the Edgecliff school's carbon use.
It is ambitious and innovative, but it started out as just another paper recycling campaign.
"After I saw the movie An Inconvenient Truth, I started looking at Ascham and how un-environmentally-friendly it was," Sarah says. "As a student, the thing we notice most is how much paper the school uses, so I thought that was going to be one of the main problems."
But closer investigation, and a meeting with the school bursar, Bill Apter, proved otherwise. "Mr Apter showed me a pie chart of where our usage actually was and the two biggest areas were electricity and gas."
To reduce expenditure in these areas, the pair successfully campaigned to have the temperature of the school swimming pool reduced by a few degrees, dramatically reducing gas consumption. It was a good result, but they wanted more.
"I had calculated the school's carbon footprint and I jokingly said that if we turned the whole school into a forest, then we could offset all our carbon emissions," Apter says.
But Sarah took the suggestion seriously. A few weeks later she had another meeting with Apter.
The painting is by Laura Tasheiko