Sustainable businesses

I Group recently traveled to two Jemicy family-owned businesses, Bella Vita Farm and Ashton Manor Environmental, that incorporate environmental sustainability into their missions and practices. Upon their return, I Groupers reflected on their experiences and observations:

Jacob: “At Ashton Manor, when workers plant, the extra soil that is dug up is saved for use in other projects. Ashton Manor also repaired all of their own equipment and they kept bolts that were from older pieces of equipment and used them later on to repair trucks and other equipment. Also, instead of buying their own wood chips, they have a machine that shreds logs and turns them into wood chips. Something else that was new to me was the fact that you can turn old oil and gas into other products. They also give old tires to a company to reuse.

In the second place we went on the field trip, they had a hydroponic farm which is a farm without soil and with just water. The plants grow in the water without soil. They had tons and tons of fish. If one fish got sick or a fin or another body part started rotting, they would use the fish as fertilizer. After learning about the fish, we found out they used the fish poop in a special machine. In the center of the water in the machine was all of the nutrients of the poop. Then, they put the nutrients in the hydroponic tanks. Another thing that amazed me there is that they never let in new water unless some evaporated. They would reuse and clean the water.

At the same company, they had an ax-throwing business. At the ax-throwing, they demonstrated how to throw an ax. They also told us about how they reuse target boards. Some of the boards they make furniture out of and the others they gave to a neighbor who burns them for heat. “

Olivia: “I group went on a field trip to Max Schwartz’s dad’s sustainable and Chance’s mom’s aquaponics  farm. First, we had to take an hour bus ride to Max’s farm. When we got off the bus it was absolutely freezing outside. After, we went into a shed where they would fix different machines such as cars, snow plows and more. Later, we went back outside and got to see how all the different machines worked and even got to operate some of them,we also got to see a wood chipper make wood chips. Next, we went to see all the different plants that they got from all different parts of the country. Then, they showed us different parts of where they work in the building. And finally we planted trees and then got on the bus. I think it was a wonderful field trip.”IMG_E6744

Will: “Bella vita Farm was so cool. They used fish poop as fertilizer for plants. They have so many tilapia and koi. It was really hot in there and I was surprised how little algae was in the tanks.  From my experience, I get algae in my fish tanks all the time. They put molasses in the water to turn the water brown and block out the sun. They don’t use pesticides. They use lady bugs to kill aphids and fly strips to control flies. I wish there were more farms like this.” IMG_E6720

Paige: “At Bella Vita, they rarely have to get new water, because instead of getting rid of the water they clean the dirty water and then put it back. At Ashton Manor, they turn excess wood into wood chips, recycle oil, bolts, nuts, and tires, use mostly native plants and trees, and use leftover soil.”IMG_E6718

Max S.: “They had a huge hydroponic greenhouse. What is a hydroponic greenhouse? it’s basically: fish poop, and then the fish poop is used to grow plants, and the plants grow in water, plus the fish are used as food for people. They have 50 chickens and sell their eggs, but the egg cartons are recycled. “

Ava S.: “Once we were done learning about the ladybugs that eat aphids, we got to try parsley, mint ,and a banana shaped cucumber.”IMG_E6734

Nate: “This trip changed my thinking about how to be more sustainable.”

Hannah: “ They use fish waste as fertilizer and reuse most of their water.”IMG_E6728

Milo: Bella Vita reuses wood scraps as fuel.”

Hayden: “They let us run around in the cut cornfield, and it was so big and the air was so fresh. You could jump over the low parts of the cut corn stems, and there was so much room to run around  – I loved it.”IMG_E6743

Zac S.: “At Ashton Manor, my favorite part of the trip was planting a tree. I learned that they fixed broken machines with out getting a new machine, and I liked using the big power machines.”IMG_E6705

Harper: “When we went to the greenhouse we had to step inside hydrogen peroxide so we wouldn’t leave any chemicals or dirt from our feet.”IMG_E6737

Parker: “I had a lot of fun at Ashton Manor. AND THEY LET US IN FOR FREE!!!!! And I also learned that they fix machines and they recycle tires and they reuse nuts and bolts. AND THEY LET ME DRIVE A MINI EXCAVATOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”IMG_E6699

Katie: “We looked at all the different ways they help to save the environment. It was so cool. They recycled the oil, they reused things that they were broken, and they fixed all the damaged products. We went to look at how they worked in the office to reuse paper. They worked on computers to save a lot of paper.”IMG_E6665

Enrique: “My favorite part was when I was riding the machines. Also we planted trees. They told us that they recycle oil and wood.”

Jordan: “At Ashton Manor they did a lot of stuff for the environment. They plant trees and other plants. They recycle a lot of stuff like nuts and bolts, tires, and oil, and they plant native plants.”IMG_E6669

 

 

 

 

Upcycled air cannons

What can you do with yogurt containers, grocery bags, and creamer cups? Make air cannons, of course! Cut a hole in one end of the yogurt container, tape a bag over the other end, stack up a wall of creamer cups, and you have a mini weapon of mass destruction. We also discovered that you could use the cannon as a launcher, or to create a version of no-contact air hockey by trying to to get the creamer “puck” over your opponent’s side of the table first.

Design Challenge: Leaning Tower of Pizza

I Group students found yet another re-use for our pizza boxes this week in the “Leaning Tower of Pizza” Challenge. Each student received half of a pizza box and one meter of masking tape with the goal of constructing the tallest freestanding tower using the fewest resources. Students could “purchase” additional tape for the price of having 5 cm. of height/purchase deducted from their final measurement. Scissors, cardboard cutters, and rulers were provided. 

Congratulations to all participants for their ingenious designs!

 

 

Stewards of Sustainability

What does it mean to be a sustainability steward? Jemicy joined the Green Schools Alliance with this commitment: “As sustainability stewards, our school will set goals, take action, and monitor and share progress in the three sustainability leadership action tracks:

  • reduce our climate and ecological impact
  • educate and engage community
  • transform our institutional culture

Keri Weber’s Star Group students recently worked on essays reflecting on their stewardship role in the Jemicy community. They take pride in personally contributing to a healthier planet, educating others, and helping to transform our school culture.

 

Ava

Sophia

Jack

Jordyn

Nathan

Annabelle

Raife

Dash

 

 

 

 

Upcycling

Every Friday is pizza day on the Jemicy LMS campus. This means that, along with lunch, we get 20 boxes to dispose of.IMG_3024

While most of the boxes are recyclable (except those with food stuck to them), they are also eminently reusable. Dumpster diving for reusable project materials is a long-standing Jemicy tradition, but given the regular influx of this particular resource, we have begun to collect and warehouse the pizza boxes for our project-based classes. This adds to our efforts to collect other reusable cardboard, such as shoeboxes, egg cartons, and tubes, which are used for everything from dioramas to rock collections to the marble rollercoasters constructed by Y Group physics classes.

Upcycling means taking a material that has already been used in one way and reusing it in another so that its value increases. Cardboard is a particularly useful resource in STEAM-based classes where students experiment, solve problems and display concepts through engineering, construction, and art-infused projects. It is sturdy but flexible, able to be manipulated by kids of all ages.

In the past, pizza boxes have been used for dioramas, gliders, solar ovens, pinball and operation games, and numerous other designs.

This fall, the boxes have already been used in Star Group science to make lunar rovers, and in the JE science classes for building boats. You never know where cardboard may be upcycled next!

Environmental statements

Jemicy LMS art teacher Nancy Curran walked into her room one day to find a dozen mannequin heads awaiting her. The unexpected donation sparked a project for her middle school art students: “Make an environmental statement.” The resulting group pieces utilized all manner of found and collected objects, giving voice to students’ feelings about the human relationship to the earth.

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Trash-free lunches

Students in the lower school worked this week to identify ways to reduce the amount of waste from lunches that ends up in our school trashcans. After discussing the options for different kinds of trash, we practiced sorting items into appropriate containers: trashcan, recycling bin, and compost.

 

This activity made it clear that packing small amounts of food in reusable containers (not ziplock bags) would reduce the most trash ending up in the landfill.  Here are some tips from SuperKids Nutrition to help plan trash-free lunches.

Reuse, reuse, reuse

Even better than recycling is making the effort to reuse materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Refillable water bottles can make an enormous difference in reducing the production and disposal of plastic, single-use water bottles. Some Jemicy homerooms have also committed to reusable plates and utensils for lunch events.  Students in the lower school have participated in “trash-free” lunch exercises to help them make responsible decisions about bringing lunches with reusable containers. Faculty and staff are encouraged to bring their own coffee and tea mugs, or to use those available in the faculty room, rather than styrofoam single-use cups.

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