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This article was published 15/11/2011 (3548 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
STUDENTS at Woodlands Elementary School have learned how to reduce their environmental footprint -- by looking in their lunch bags.
Now, the students in last year's Grade 7/8 combined class have been honoured by being named one of three runners-up for the 2011 Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability.
The award was given out Tuesday night by the Learning for a Sustainable Future organization.
"It was a pretty fun project," recalled Grade 8 student Dawson Procter, 13.
"There's now not as much Ziploc baggies being used. And I have a reusable container."
Thirteen-year-old Rebecca Schott said she couldn't believe how much garbage was thrown out during the lunch hour by her fellow students.
"Now it's better," Schott said.
"It was also fun picking out the colours for the cookbook and picking recipes."
The students produced a cookbook that contains recipes for food that could be brought to the school in reusable containers. It also includes 365 eco-tips and student-produced illustrations.
Sales of the cookbook generated $1,110 in revenue, which was directed toward the school's outdoor classroom.
Chelsea Wishart, who teaches at the school located in the community of Woodlands, about 60 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, submitted the proposal to do an audit of student lunches. She said the goal was for students to reduce the amount of garbage they produce and increase recycling.
"I had been seeing lots of kids coming to school with packaged food like granola bars and soup cups instead of reusable containers," Wishart said.
"But the biggest surprise I got was the involvement with other classrooms in the school. And while Woodlands has a great paper recycling system, now the kids are mad that it's only paper."
David Bell, the Learning for a Sustainable Future's chairman, said from Toronto a Grade 3 class at a school in Brampton, Ont., took the top honours.
Bell said he was impressed with what the Woodlands students accomplished.
"We just received the cookbook (on Thursday)," he said.
"It was a terrific project. They focused on what could be recycled and how to minimize what was going to the landfill."
Bell said former federal NDP leader Jack Layton, who died Aug. 22, was a student working towards his PhD when he first met him as his doctoral supervisor.
"Jack was one of the greatest sustainability champions this country has ever had," he said.
"He would have loved this award."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.