Conserving energy is a top priority for students at Waterloo Collegiate Institute (WCI) who planned and hosted a Turn It Off Thursday as part of their larger Eco Competition on Apr. 21, leading up to Earth Day.
The energy conservation event involved participating in GreenLearning’s Energy Revealed Challenge, a series of hands-on, action-oriented activities, which make energy visible so students can ‘see’ their energy use, drive down the usage and work towards a reduction in the school’s overall carbon footprint.
Carolyn Gingerich, a teacher at WCI, said their goal was to raise awareness about the impact of individual actions on reducing energy usage.
“Turn It Off Thursday involved turning off the lights, turning down the thermostat and unplugging unused devices,” Gingerich said.
“We are also working with the school board to obtain a record of our energy use for that day, which would help us see how much energy was saved. Students will then work on comparing their energy use data to a regular day when no actions were taken,” she said.
The student-led Eco Club at WCI organizes a variety of educational campaigns throughout the year, including the Eco Competition, which is a week-long event that started in 2021 as a way to inspire high school students to take action for the environment.
Last year, the club hosted the Eco Competition online since schools were in remote learning mode and most of the environmental actions were done at home instead of at school.
“It is important to take action because young people are experiencing eco-anxiety and don’t think they are big or important enough to make a difference. So, the Eco Competition is a way of empowering them with tangible ways they can take action for the environment,” Ella Williamson, student and Eco Club Organizer at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, said.
This year, WCI planned an in-person event consisting of five days of challenges: Turn it Off Thursday on Apr. 21, Filter Friday on Apr. 22, Meatless Monday on Apr. 25, Take a Walk Tuesday on Apr. 26 and Wasteless Wednesday on Apr. 27.
Turn It Off Thursday was a part of Eco Club’s participation in GreenLearning’s Energy Revealed Challenge, which tasks students with conserving energy by planning, hosting and quantifying the environmental impact of a school Earth Hour event.
GreenLearning is a non-profit that creates free programs about energy, climate change and green economy while engaging and empowering youth to create positive change in an evolving world.
To promote the activities, the Eco Club made school-wide announcements, posted messages on Instagram and placed posters around the school building.
“GreenLearning is thrilled to be supporting Waterloo Collegiate Institute in their goal to conserve energy and become a more sustainable school community. By participating in our Energy Revealed Challenge, students discover how small actions can yield big results. In the past, participating schools have conserved up to 140 kWh of energy, which is equivalent to 31 kg of greenhouse gas emissions, in a single day,” Sidney Howlett, engagement manager at GreenLearning, said.