Zooming in on the Work of Sustainability Coordinators


Photo by Sijia Zhong

Picture of the UNIS sustainability coordinators. From left to right: Ms. Clarkson (MS), Ms. Jun (TH), and Ms. Fico (JS).

When my peers at UNISVerse asked, “Do you want to write about the UNIS Sustainability Coordinators?” My immediate response was; “There are sustainability coordinators at school now? I did not know that at all!” It’s no wonder that a lot of UNIS students have not noticed the existence of sustainability coordinators since they’ve been appointed ‘secretly’. So who are they, what is their purpose, and what have they been doing at school?

There are three sustainability coordinators currently at UNIS, present in the Junior School (JS TA teacher Ms. Fico), Middle School (P.E. Teacher and Team Leader Ms. Clarkson) and Tutorial House (MS/TH Japanese Mother Tongue Teacher Ms. Jun). According to sustainability coordinators Ms. Clarkson and Ms. Jun, the Middle School and Junior School sustainability group was formed “years ago” while the Tutorial House one was established “at the beginning of this school year”. Therefore, the reason that so many students do not know this role is most likely because it has been in existence for just 3 months. Ms. Clarkson further stated, “it is easy for an issue to get pushed aside if no one has accountability for it,” and that creating the sustainability group “empowered people to collaborate and take charge of the environmental aspect of UNIS’ mission to make the world ‘a better place’.” There is so much potential for growth regarding sustainability at UNIS; working together with teachers, the faculty, and students as a whole pushes forward the relative progress in greater efforts.

Currently, the sustainability group is phasing out the single-use coffee cups for staff and faculty at break and meeting times, which will eliminate over 800 cups per week, according to Ms. Clarkson. Meanwhile, students in the MS Environmental Club attended a Youth Climate Summit and submitted a grant application for up to $1,000 to help enact their Climate Action Plan. Younger members of the club have been propagating plants in the Middle School and in the cafeteria. In addition, the coordinators have been connecting with staff from the cafeteria to understand how the environmental elements process, so that M4 students can teach others about recycling, composting, and landfill requirements. Furthermore, the coordinators are participating in ConEd’s Smart Kids Energy Efficiency Program. They recently took delivery of 250 kits for M1 and M2 students, which includes a high efficiency shower head, digital thermometer, and three LED light bulbs. The kit will be integrated into the Science curriculum and help to introduce the topic of sustainability.

In the Junior School, Ms. Fico is putting efforts to promote the importance of sustainability. She went into every JS class to give lessons on how to recycle, and made bulletin boards about recycling. According to Ms. Fico, “There is a tree in the stairway that tells the students about how they can help the planet and in another stairs there is a recycling poster and photos of students recycling.” Junior School kids even have a competition on which class recycles the best, with winners obtaining a trophy and having their photo posted in the newsletter. In December, there was also a guest speaker talking about “Recycling and the Environment.” Next year, there will be other events to reinforce JS students’ mindsets on sustainability issues.

There aren’t many events held in Tutorial House, since students are kept busy with their academics. However, thanks to previous learning and help from teachers, most Tut House students are aware of the importance of protecting the environment and how to recycle in the cafeteria.

Striving for greater sustainability is a difficult process that requires every person at school to contribute and make a better community together as well as model good habits for others. As Ms. Clarkson said, “[we] welcome more students to join the Environmental Club in the MS and TH, enabling us all to take more action in school and beyond.”

If you have any questions or concerns, you can always contact UNIS sustainability coordinators by email or find them in the PE Department on the third floor, the Japanese Office on the fourth floor, or in Room 247.