Jumeirah College

Partners with the environment

We are delighted to share a blog written by student Mia, from Jumeirah College, who is part of team Zero Waste, a Global Goals project for the 2020-21 GSL Global Goals Competition.

Their project is among over 957 social action projects currently running as part of the GSL movement and we are excited to be supporting them to design and lead positive social change in their community. 

We have been very blessed and grateful to be of service to our Planet, for we believe people can only fulfil their full potential in a healthy environment.

Project Summary

At the heart of Jumeirah college is a team of individuals who are passionate about composting: Mia, Maria, Danyaal and Piyah. ‘We believe that community composting is an important part of building a more resilient world.’ Now that we’re well into April, Earth Day is right around the corner! Even though here at Jumeirah College we celebrate Earth Day everyday by working towards sustainability as our core mission, we won’t pass up an opportunity to talk about why the environment is worth protecting and how composting can be an effective stepping stone in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving soil quality. If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation.

Currently community-level composting options in the UAE are limited, thus our project ‘zero waste’ is aiming to change that. With unprecedented increase in urban population in the UAE, there is increasing concern that large amounts of urban organic waste are generated every day and dumped in landfill sites causing environmental, social, economic and health problems. Thus it is crucial that sources of pollutants such as urban organic solid waste are properly managed and disposed of. At this juncture, it is worth noting that this waste is the cause of a myriad of problems however one simple solution would be to convert it into useful materials like compost. As part of our project we decided to look at poverty reduction in terms of a social strategy. A higher rate of recoverability will allow a lowering in the amount of food wasted and less surplus is left. Our main goals:

  • to empower, engage and educate all members of our community about the benefits of composting
  • to design a self-sustaining and lasting solution to urban solid waste disposal
  • to contribute to pollution and lasting solution to urban solid waste disposal
  • to co tribute to pollution and emission reduction efforts in our city
  • to ensure bidirectional flow of nutrients back to the soil
  • to serve an effective mode to be adopted for all school waste management protocols

‘The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself’.

The Journey

We have reached a new milestone for the community based on the first of it’s kind composting program at Jumeirah College. The project was funded by the members of the team, with the support of the school teachers and staff. We have provided the school with the first step to have a ‘close loop’ system, where the creation of compost will go directly towards growing our own crops. This is a victory for all who care about the environment, healthy food and sustainable communities. To overcome barriers we conducted a survey prior to the project which revealed numerous obstacles due to Covid restrictions, from lack of volunteers to our inability to carry out fundraisers at school. However with creativity and drive we managed to overcome it all.

We learnt that little will happen until a significant number of people start caring about an issue and start to feel that their actions can make a difference. Our values and beliefs, such as fairness and respect, helped sustain our efforts. The qualities and behaviours we shared were clarity of vision, capacity to support, encouragement and tolerance. While the internet absolutely makes us more aware of the needs of others, it also allows us to be more passive. We often feel like we’re doing our part in supporting a cause simply because we’ve become more aware of it. Empowering individuals to make informed decisions is key. Students eagerly embraced the program, volunteering on the do’s and don’ts of food scraps and recycling. Learning about and taking part in compost production allows pupils to learn and improve upon many transferable skills; skills such as team-building, communication and organization are needed to make a successful collective system.

With any challenge we face, effective intervention is shaped by trial and error under which specifies interventions ( the independent variable) affect the desired behaviour and outcome (the dependent variable). Opposition to change may be like an onion; we expected multiple layers of resistance to change. Therefore we used multiple strategies in our planning. Being open to different audiences helps us integrate disparate ideas, discover novel solutions and transform our practice. Mobilizing our project for action required substantial time and effort. We researched all the methods of composting and made inquiries until we decided to use Bokashi composting.

The Next Chapter

The impact of the project on a larger scale would be contributing to the literature of adopting soil conservation for preventing soil depletion of nutrients contributing to poverty. When composting forms part of a waste reduction program students learn to become wiser consumers which can lead to us adopting a more responsible and environmentally friendly approach to the use of natural resources, food production, waste reduction and recycling. The ultimate goal is to collaborate and form partnerships to help us all together achieve the goal of Zero Hunger by 2030, to protect our planet from degradation through sustainable management. Prosperity is achieved when social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature. Even beyond the Jumeirah college bubble, we look forward to seeing many more compost haulers work resiliently under the motto ‘Zero Hunger’ to continuously reduce food waste, improve soil quality and most importantly keep our communities safe for the future generation.