Pupils convince ESF schools to go green
[First published on 16 October, 2014] A group of secondary pupils has convinced 16 principals from the English Schools Foundation to switch to recycled printing paper, despite the fact that the move will cost the schools an additional HK$200,000 a year in total.
The student-led campaign was spearheaded by Ike Park, a Year 12 pupil at Renaissance College, who made the plea to the primary and secondary school heads at a meeting of ESF’s committee of principals.
There are many reasons local schools have been slow to adopt recycled paper, Park said.
“Hongkongers seem to just love to have their paper purely white, and recycled paper, unfortunately, is a little yellow compared with virgin paper,” he said.
“Some also have doubts about the quality of recycled paper and, since it costs more anyway, schools just did not have a real impetus.”
Each tonne of recycled paper saves about 24 trees, 54 million British thermal units of heat energy and 3.3 cubic metres of landfill space, but low local demand for the material meant prices were higher here, Park said.
Switching to recycled copy paper was in the interests of schools as it gave them an opportunity to lead by example when teaching sustainable consumerism, the pupil said.
Kelly Yang, who helped in the student campaign, said: “If you do the math, it doesn’t work out as that much more.”
The managing editor of education organisation The Kelly Yang Project and columnist at the South China Morning Post added: “I think it’s about HK$1,000 or HK$2,000 extra per month per school.”
For Park, the 16 ESF schools are just the beginning.
“We plan on convincing other schools to join,” he said. “Large-scale environmental action is much more influential. Imagine how many trees we can save if this movement spreads across all Hong Kong schools.”