The Kermesse is a fantastic annual event for the school community to come together and celebrate the end of another wonderful school year and the start of summer. As an alumna who graduated over 8 years ago, the annual Kermesses are still some of my fondest La Chât memories. However, each year, this celebration generates a large amount of waste. Though students, parents and staff leave with full bellies and happy memories, the trash footprint each person generates at this event puts pressure on the service technique and local waste management facilities, not to mention leaves a long-lasting environmental impact. Switzerland’s waste impact is significantly higher than our European neighbours, with the average Swiss resident generating more than 700 kg of waste per year. So, how can we work together as a community to make the Kermesse a lower waste event?
1. Bring your waste to the Eco Point, and be ready to learn: last year we trialled the implementation of a central “Eco Point” where the willing EcoCREW helped Kermesse-goers sort their waste. Very often recyclable waste ends up incinerated because it has been contaminated with too many different types of trash. In order to remedy this situation, the EcoCREW direct the flow of waste to educate Kermesse-goers about the importance of sorting waste, while ensuring the viability of each bin for recycling. The Eco Point volunteers will help you sort your waste into a number of different bins, including but not limited to: compost, biodegradables, glass and aluminium. Please make their job easier by listening and learning, so that when you can come back to the Eco Point after your third helping of delicious poffertjes from the Dutch stand, you know what to do!
2. Come armed with containers and cutlery: An even better solution to the Eco Point is to limit the amount of trash we are creating in the first place. By bringing a small Tupperware, steel or glass container, and a fork or spoon, you can go up to each stand and have them put your food directly into your container. I have done this at the last several Kermesses and have found that stall owners are more than receptive to it, as it allows them to conserve their supply of paper plates.
3. Bring your water bottle (and a cup if you can!): Last year we worked to create multiple water points where Kermesse-goers could use the reusable water glasses to hydrate. What would be great is if people could bring their water bottles in order to minimise the amount of cups used, thereby diminishing the amount of water used for washing up later! If you want to enjoy a delicious Pimms from the British stand, why not bring your own reusable sturdy plastic cup from home?
These actions may seem small, but if you multiply them by each person in our community, we can make a huge impact. Bringing your own cup may seem silly or extravagant, but it signals to your family and friends that you care about your community and your planet! As a participant to the Kermesse, you have the opportunity to leave it cleaner than you found it and to make it an easier and more pleasant experience for the hard-working organisers and volunteers. And remember to enjoy yourselves!
Alexis McGivern, La Chat Class of 2011.