Vatican News

Green Schools: Caring for the environment is caring for ourselves

When the demand to pay special attention to environmental sustainability and to what surrounds us "comes so strongly from students", schools have "the duty to respond". That’s according to Maria Grazia Lancellotti, the headmaster of the Liceo Statale Orazio High School in Rome, who leads a Network of Green Schools throughout Italy. Established in December 2019, the network today encompasses more than 800 schools throughout the country.

By Vatican News

Maria Grazia Lancellotti speaks of the "call" of the more than 1,300 high school students of the Orazio Lyceum demanding care for our common home. The network was born "on the wave of Fridays for Future, because - she says - we began to see that our students had a great desire to participate in those events. The need to take this direction had already made itself clear back in 2015, which was a pivotal year, with the publication of Pope Francis' Laudato si', a precursor document for all the sustainability issues that were then presented in the UN's 2030 Agenda". The "turning point", reflects Professor Lancellotti, came with "Greta Thunberg's movement and the direct request by young people" for "a pedagogy that is attentive to these issues: let's say that young people have taught us more than we have taught them, in understanding that the times had really been written, that we could no longer wait: we had to get going".

Maria Grazie Lancellotti
Maria Grazie Lancellotti

Lancellotti explains that as a network and as a school "it is important that we put virtuous behaviours in plac . The first is to go “plastic free,” so we have started processes to reduce the production and use of plastic and non-recyclable materials; we pay attention to separate waste collection and recycling - not only the recycling of the most common materials but also, for example in our case, the recycling of exhausted cell phones, which are then reused through an association." Recycling containers have been placed in the classrooms and in the corridors, and we try to discourage the use of polluting vehicles during the journey to and from school. We provide bicycle racks and have organized a series of "activities related to awareness through meetings with experts on various topics."

A vegetable garden in the school grounds
A vegetable garden in the school grounds

The ongoing pandemic has undoubtedly changed our habits. The lockdown, the headmaster explains, "has paralyzed us a bit and forced us to re-think our behaviour. Unfortunately, in terms of safety and hygiene, all of this clashes with what used to be many good practices, because now we have to deal, for example, with the problem of disposing of used masks. As far as detergents are concerned, we and other schools had favoured the purchase of those that are totally biodegradable and sustainable, and now we are trying to find associations and vendors who will give us materials that are better suited to the current emergency.



01 June 2021, 16:13