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GNS CAN: Taking Action for a Greener School

Service Learning
Students at GNS participate in waste audit.

What is GNS CAN?

GNS CAN is a group of students led by Clementine Germain ‘26 dedicated to helping the school have a more positive impact on the environment. They meet every Tuesday at lunch to discuss how we can reduce our school’s carbon footprint. We are student-led and all ideas are welcome. We also have the amazing Ms. Greven as our teacher support. It is a friendly, open-hearted club that is always looking for more people interested in environmental action!

What was the problem we were trying to address?

Canada produces the most waste per person per year in the world. Out of the 1.33 million tonnes of waste produced in Canada per annum, only 28% is ever recycled (Blair, 2024). Instead of being sustainably reused until the end of its natural life, this garbage is either burned, stored in landfills, or sent to developing countries for processing. Landfills and incinerators take up acres of space and contribute immensely to global warming. Incineration emits toxic gasses into the air, and eats up lots of fossil-fuel-powered energy, while landfills leach chemicals and debris into the environment. In comparison, recycling saves energy—it limits resource mining, extraction of fossil fuels, and other harmful practices while providing more sustainable plastic and paper materials. Students at GNS have the resources and ability to reduce our carbon footprint. As global citizens, GNS students and faculty have a responsibility to take action against climate change and to live more sustainably. We must dispose of our waste properly to try to do this. 

Why do a waste audit?

The waste audit is our first step toward making GNS more eco-friendly! Going through the waste from GNS allows the CAN team to see what improvements need to be made to our recycling system. The goal was to identify how much of the trash could have been sent to a recycling or composting facility instead of the landfill. 

What was involved in the audit?

The audit was organized by Mr Goddard and Ms. Greven. They worked with the Climate Action Now Club to sort out details. A group of dedicated volunteers signed up to help with the audit—sorting waste from the cafeteria and classrooms. Over the course of a week, the team sorted through the school’s waste, separating trash from recyclables. By the end, they found that approximately ¾ of the waste marked as “trash” could have been recycled instead! The waste audit is a huge opportunity to revolutionize Glenlyon Norfolk School’s impact on the climate for the better— just by changing our waste sorting habits! The waste audit marks the first, exciting step towards a more sustainable future for GNS.

What do we hope to do with the information?

Now that the audit is complete, you may be thinking, “What next?” In keeping with CAN’s action plan, the data from the audit will prove that our recycling program needs some attention. For the remainder of the school year, the group will focus on educating our community in hopes of decreasing the percentage of waste going to landfills. In September of next year, CAN hopes to start the school year with a bang! The goal is to have more recycling bins throughout the school, to encourage students to be more eco-friendly citizens. We are also hoping to look into meatless Mondays and reusable dishes in the cafeteria! Let’s work together to be better stewards of the environment!