Environmental stewardship program at the Gabriola Elementary School

As part of the GIRO mandate to promote practices that care for the earth and its non-renewable resources, GIRO General Manager Michelle MacEwen has been teaching a Zero Waste Program at the Gabriola Elementary School since 2014. One main goal was to establish a schoolwide classroom recycling set up, with a focus on minimizing garbage and recycling through students bringing a waste free lunch.

Michelle creates and facilitates lesson plans that engages older students in grades 4-7 to learn about their environment and how they impact it, with the aim to promote environmental stewardship. As students learn more about their affect on the environment through their daily actions they see how as individuals they can make a difference, and that collectively they can bring about change in their community and on a larger scale.

Here are some of the lesson plans carried out in the last year:

Lesson plans


Build a medieval trebuchet using recycled materials

Grades 4-7 To understand the physics of how a trebuchet works, students first explored how simple levers help make our...
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Short term plastic products, are they sustainable?

Students learned about short term plastic products specifically; plastic ballpoint pens, toothbrushes, disposable lighters and disposable razors. All of these products have a short lifespan of less than two months when used daily, are not refillable, are not recyclable and are destined for the landfill, incinerator or end up in the ocean.
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Baking from scratch

Baking food from scratch creates food that tastes good, is better for you and teaches important life skills. Homemade food also eliminates the need for single use plastics and non-recyclable food packaging (e.g. granola bar wrappers). This lesson plan teaches children why homemade food is better for the planet.
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Plastic Free Challenge and Plastic Consumer Survey

Students learnt how plastic pollution is affecting our oceans, ecosystems and the food chain. They learned about the different types of plastic, which ones are recyclable and what percentage of plastics are recycled globally. This forced the questions; Is recycling plastic a viable solution considering the global market and harmful affect on the planet? Considering the climate crisis can we continue to use plastic as a form of packaging?
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