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Yusuf El Nashar, a year 12 IB student, talks about his experience taking part in the Waste Reduction Challenge in this guest blog post. 

The main idea of the Waste Reduction Challenge was to discuss the major environmental issues we are facing today. By showing us the importance it motivates us to work on improving it. 

Each week had a topic circulating around the main idea. We were then set tasks to complete in our household during this pandemic regarding that certain topic, and attempted to answer how we could prevent and limit this issue from what we observed and discuss it in our weekly Zoom webinars. In this blog post, I will be recapping the process of Week 2 and Week 3 as an example. 

As an individual I have always cared for the environment, always committing to my job as a person to respect it as much as possible. Seeing statistics today it is clear that the majority of people do not have the same level of respect as the minority. Climate change is currently a very major issue that we are regrettably not focusing on. 

Evidence shows that the arctic sea ice has thinned 20% since 2008. This results in animals losing their homes and the destruction of natural habitats. Additionally, global temperature has increased 19 of the 20 warmest years have occurred since 2001. Since the industrial revolution, numbers like these just continue to increase. 

A minority of the human population attempt to decrease these statistics, but sadly not at the fast pace required. I am hoping that my discussion of challenges such as these, motivate other people to engage in these concepts and attempt to move forward with ways to help our environment. Thankfully as an IB student and with CAS as an important aspect, I was able to find such an amazing program. When I first joined the program I was surprised at how efficient and simple it was to follow. 

Firstly, we attended a weekly Zoom webinar where two coaches discussed a certain environmental issue. For the first week, the topic was food waste. The same coaches created a new document each week diving into the topic. Our task was to read this document and complete it throughout the week. 

Over the entire week, I noticed that the main reason for food being wasted was overbuying and then failing to utilize the food –  therefore it ends up expiring or rotting. I also realized that my family does not create shopping lists and buy based on whims without any pre-planning of the weekly meals, which leads to even more waste due to lack of organization. 

After having a discussion with my family about ways to reduce the waste, I realized that while everyone was convinced each family member had their different motivators such as; a desire to be environmentally conscious, money-saving, household efficiencies, religious reasons into not throwing the food away, as well as a desire for more healthy eating. This simple activity of tracking the food led to us editing our ways to be more sustainable towards food.

The second week’s Waste Reduction Challenge centers around sustainable fashion. Sustainable fashion is slow, its ecological and more unique while fast fashion is a continuous flow of goods onto the market, basically cheap and quite accessible. 

The idea is to become more sustainable when it comes to our clothing choices, with guidelines that help us, such as repairing old garments instead of buying new ones, swapping owned pieces with different people, exploring second-hand shopping and indulging in thrift shopping, being selective and avoiding clothes that contain plastic materials. 

We learned that high-quality clothes will last longer. They also encourage donating and upcycling. The week’s challenge was to conduct an audit on one’s wardrobe and reflect on it. Trying to get rid of synthetic fibers in future purchases. We should not be damaging our environment with something like fashion, and some of these replacement choices are ideal, not time or money consuming to a huge extent.

I hope this calls out to people across the world. Your planet needs you, and this is how you can help. Educating yourself and starting small.