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  • Zara Ilijas

COVID-19 and Youth Activism: Unprecedented Problems Require Unprecedented Solutions

Updated: Aug 9, 2020

The current times are unprecedented, and 2020 is and always will be remembered as the year you spent locked away at home. Regardless, accounting for the environment should continue even during these times. One of the groups that has been ensuring that to happen is “The Green Team” As the president of “The Green Team”, I have an opportunity to provide a deeper insight to the pursuits and achievements established prior and during the lockdown. In simple terms, our team can be characterized as a dynamic team of young “changemakers” interested in developing sustainable education within Bavarian International School (BIS) and the wider community by combating climate change and tackling the environmentally concerned United Nations sustainable development goals. As previously mentioned, during the lockdown the team has continued to hold its weekly Tuesday meetings in order to further the stated agenda.

Throughout these virtual meetings members of the team have been brainstorming different possibilities in which they can engage their peers to participate in activates that will allow the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, encourage recycling and promote a sustainable lifestyle. The solution was to place the emphasis on creating an online platform, an Instagram account (@thegreenteambis), that virtually engages people to participate weekly challenged. Of course, I would highly urge to take a look at the account and take on a challenge yourself. One of the most successful challenges so far has been a “10 000 Steps Challenge”. The challenge was not only partaken on behalf of the BIS students, but also students from the United States and Poland. The direct access and communication with the account has given them an opportunity to share and publish their results to inspire others. Some of the other challenges included #BISMakeABoardGameChallenge, #BISUpcycle/ReuseChallenge, #BISHealthyMealChallenge and #BISBiodiversityChallenege. Besides the online challenges, we worked on designing our own brand identity including a new logo which is consistent with both online and offline public appearances of our team. Currently, we are working on new challenges that can further the campaign “Healthy Living”.

Although, the Instagram platform was a valuable source for us to publish our findings, it was not enough. So, to ensure an optimised impact on our community we had also to maintain our focus on different campaigns. Some of them include the Biodiversity team, the Climate Changemakers, the Eco-Code Stickers, all of which are working on initial plans that can be finalized with the start of a new academic school year. The crucial project is “Eco-Code stickers”, which will include a motivational slogan that in form a sticker will be placed in each classroom. However, to ensure the sustainability and eco-friendliness of this project all the materials are going to be purchased from sites that have verified the source providing exclusively recycled materials. Also, we have been looking at the global impact of the lockdown on the world’s carbon footprint particularly in terms of reduced air travel, air pollution over our cities, the impact on biodiversity. The findings have shown that the lockdown has positively impacted the environment helping to reach the road to its recovery. Some of the younger members have taken on the initiative to find out more about the school’s statistics about the use of electricity, printed papers and waste. Most of which have had a significant drop during the Distance Learning.

In addition to the priceless efforts the team has made, we have received support from our graduating class of 2020. They might have not had an opportunity to organize a prank day, but this slightly different concept will definitely be just as memorable. They have volunteered to help with the field projects and managed to build new garden beds ready to be used by the youngest members of our school. Besides that, these young changemakers have also been making an outstanding progress by organizing litter picking during recedes, planting bulbs, building bird feeders and much more. The future of our planet is in their hands too, seeing such a behaviour from them is more than exemplary.

We all can agree that food at school is one of the main components that keeps our brains from collapsing during stressful days. Therefore, I was fortunate enough to participate in the online meetings where we were able to take a look at offers made by new catering companies. The experience was insightful and highly useful to the school, but also to our team. As done in the past, we are looking forward to having a close collaboration with the catering company so that further changes can be made. All these actions are generally discussed in our “Eco- Committees”, that occur every 3 months. Here we are able to share, polish and improve our ideas and future plans.

Generally, I hope that you too are trying to make an impact from home too. But just imagine you're trying to improve your 100m sprint time. You practice every day and things are improving. All of a sudden, your coach takes away your sprinting shoes, but the length of the track is doubled. You now have 200m to run. "Surely, this should help you to improve your 100m time. Your shoes shouldn't matter, and plus, you now have 100m more to practice with!" Of course, it doesn't work like this. Having more track to run on doesn't mean you'll run faster. Likewise, having more time at our hands during the lockdown and restricted travel does not mean that your will be more or even equally aware and eager to continue making sustainable changes and developments in your local areas. Your running shoes are gone right now. My point is, don't be too hard on yourself, but also be sure to give your best.

Finally, things will get better. They always have, and they always will, even if that seems impossible at times. Keep exercising, keep using your creative outputs, keep asking questions.

Written By Zara Ilijas

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