Our Commitment to Sustainability
As a member of the Green Schools Alliance, KIS is committed to becoming a pioneer for environmental protection and sustainability here in Kodaikanal. The environmental program on campus includes taking measures to improve our solid waste management and recycling, increasing our use of renewable energy from solar power, and offering environment education to all our students — encouraging them to think about the problems they will face in their lifetimes from climate change.
The most recent initiative on campus this school year has been to reduce our production of plastic waste. KIS took a significant step towards sustainability by stopping the sale of throw-away plastic water bottles on campus, starting in January 2018. This is the first phase of a larger pursuit to reduce all plastic waste produced on the KIS campus.
In preparation for this new policy, students were first asked to respond to a survey about their drinking water consumption habits. The purpose of this survey was to understand why students were regularly purchasing throw-away water bottles. According to the responses, we learned that the number one reason for buying bottled water was “convenience”.
To initiate a cultural shift among our student body, we realized we needed to provide students with an alternative. Our team came up with a two-pronged solution. First, we started constructing drinking water fountains at prime locations throughout both of our academic campuses. Second, KIS gifted each student a free, reusable, stainless steel water bottle to carry with them throughout the school day, which could be refilled at any of the newly constructed water fountains. Any new student joining KIS would also receive a reusable water bottle, setting the expectations for sustainability on campus at an early stage.
We also repeatedly emphasize to students the negative effects of plastic water bottles on both the environment and their health. Some important facts we’ve shared with students are:
- It takes 3-5 times the amount of water to produce a plastic water bottle than it does to fill it
- It takes 300 years for that plastic to disintegrate
- Plastic bottles leach phthalates into the water, which have been linked to a wide range of developmental and reproductive health
Since the start of this new semester, it has been such a joy to observe how students feel they are making an impact with the use of these new facilities. It is clear that they have internalized this serious issue of plastic waste on our planet. As KIS expands its environment program, we will continue to make changes on campus to encourage sustainable and environmentally conscious behavior among our students and staff. This is our duty as a Green School. Stay tuned for our next project!
– Iti Maloney, Social and Environmental Experience Teacher