Houston’s Premier PK3 – 12th Grade International Day School

Sustainability

The Awty International School is committed to educating its students about sustainability, and to fostering in its students the importance of contributing to community. Through working together the students learn respect of each other and of their environment. This belief is reflected in the words of Kay Awty, founder of Awty International School:

“We would hope that from this tiny spot in this great world, we can send out concepts of children and students and adults working together in a spirit of regard and respect. We can hope that these concepts of relationships based on respect and acceptance will form cornerstones for the attitudes of these same young people when they become the world adults of tomorrow.” (September 1978)

The respect of self, of individuals, and of the environment, and the importance of contributing to community, are the foundation of Awty’s sustainability program. The mission of Awty’s sustainability program, or Awty’s Eco Code is to:

  • Reduce our negative environmental impact
  • Become a more sustainable school
  • Raise awareness of sustainability issues among students, staff, and parents
  • Inspire students and staff to take action in their community
  • Challenge students to come up with innovative solutions to environmental problems
  • Educate students and staff on environmental issues and solutions

Awty is a Bronze Award recipient of the Eco-School program. The Eco-Schools program is an international organization that accredits schools demonstrating a commitment to sustainability.

Sustainability Tools

Charging Station

As part of Awty’s commitment to sustainability, the school chose to fund the installation of an electric car charging station and the dedication of hybrid and electric car parking spots on the second floor of the parking garage. This was in an effort to encourage the use of more efficient methods of transportation and to express gratitude towards those who have chosen to sacrifice the many conveniences of a conventional car in order to protect our planet. Electric and hybrid car owners can park in the designated spots without having to search for parking spots during busy hours while enjoying the free charging station.


Furthermore, it is important to realize that many students get their first cars and start driving in high school and it is was only appropriate for Awty, given its sustainable goals, to support students who drive electric cars. As a result, the charging station exists as an encouragement for students and allows them to consider electric cars for their daily commute whereas this would have not been possible for many before due to the limited range of electric cars.

The proposal to designate hybrid and electric parking spots and to install an electric car charging station was made by a group of Awty students as part of the annual ConocoPhillips Total Sustainability Challenge and is an example of a funded project that is used on a daily basis.

RECYCLING SCHOOL SUPPLIES & SCHOOL-RELATED WASTES

At The Awty International School, we go beyond the usual stream of recycling available around the city.

We aim to be a “zero waste" campus. We first identified the waste produced in the classroom. A big portion comes from school-related waste such as writing instruments, glue sticks, tape cores, batteries, ink cartridges, and small electronics.

We then identified places where such waste can be either recycled, upcycled (transformed into different objects such as used plastic turned into a watering can), or refurbished (for small electronics).

All around campus, you will find recycling stations where such waste (writing instruments, glue sticks, tape cores, batteries, ink cartridge, and small electronics) can be dropped off. They are located in the Science Wing, Mrs. Boz's office, Mrs. Nguyen's office, and the Lower School copy room.

School Garden

The edge of the world and the back of a garden have the same quantity of marvelous things.” - Christian Bobin

Fall Planting

In fall 2017, Sandie Masson’s CM1 class, along with Olivier Logette’s support, planted radishes, carrots, bulbs, mustard, and onions in the school's vegetable garden.

The students worked to maintain the garden every week by watering the plants and picking the vegetables as they became ripe. They loved putting their hands in the dirt and reaping the rewards of their efforts by eating the vegetables they had grown; this even included the fresh radishes, which had a strong flavor. The students showed great pride in eating what they planted. The sweet potato harvest was used to make the mashed potatoes that were served at the school's Thanksgiving celebration.

While learning how to garden, the students observed the wide variety of insects that visited the plants, and gained a better understanding of how to take care of our environment. One specialty plant they nurtured was milkweed, which was planted to help attract and feed endangered Monarch butterflies. The students also had the opportunity to observe a spider feeding. The gardening project helped open their eyes to nature and all that it has to offer.

The garden is being revived in the spring of 2018; the new season will bring its own surprises for the students to discover.

Agathe, Alyssa, Amélie, Antoine, Charles, Chloé, Côme, Constance, Éléonore, Elvire, Fahd, Leilah, Margot, Matthieu, Mylharis, Parisya, Pierre, and Vivienne have become keen gardeners! Some students have even been working on their cooking skills by making carrot-onion bouillon and radishes with salted butter. We are all very excited to be a part of the next harvest, which will include delicious, juicy strawberries! These fresh berries are sure to be quickly eaten and enjoyed by Awty's junior gardeners.

Composting

Awty students have always been intrigued by composting, the idea of turning waste into a useful resource. In 2017, a permanent composting program was established.

Each day, the Awty kitchen staff fill an industrial-sized bin with organic scraps (such as fruit peels, vegetable stems, etc.) acquired from cooking and baking throughout the day. Then, student volunteers carry the bin from the kitchen to seven specialized compost bins located next to the Awty gardens. They transfer the organic scraps to the compost bin.

Additionally, discarded landscaping materials (such as dry grass clippings) are added to the compost bin. By doing so, this allows the scraps to decompose, reverting to organic materials through breakdown by microorganisms, insects, and bacteria.

Students also maintain the compost by “turning” the scraps, exposing the material to oxygen. Eventually, after months of decomposition, the waste turns into a nutrient-rich fertilizer, which is used in the school gardens to grow bountiful fruits and vegetables.

Awty students of all ages have been involved in this program. Middle School and Upper School students are able to participate in the program in a hands-on fashion, while Lower School students are educated on the compost process by the posters posted around the school.

Furthermore, the program itself teaches students the importance of recycling and being mindful about their consumption, skills necessary especially in today’s world. The kitchen staff too feels assured, knowing the extra food is not simply wasted or added to landfills, but rather benefits the environment and the school itself. Ultimately, the composting program at Awty is not only good for the environment, but it is also good for the student body and staff as it teaches them to be mindful of the world that supports them.

Upcoming Sustainability Opportunities