Eight ISD elementary school students recently joined the inauguration of a sophisticated aquatic waste collector – dubbed the ‘River Whale’ – at Düsseldorf’s MedienHafen. The device was partially funded by proceeds from the students’ sustainable Christmas market event in December 2019 and was ‘launched’ by Düsseldorf’s Lord Mayor.
The River Whale
The River Whale (so-called for its mimicry of the baleen whale’s filter-feeding system) captures floating waste in waterways 24/7 and can retain up to three cubic metres of litter.
With billions of kilograms of plastic waste entering oceans through river systems each year, the River Whale is a sustainable, eco-friendly solution to minimise the growth of “plastic oceans”.
This is a tremendous example of our students taking local action to address global issues
ISD’s Director, Frank Tschan, also joined the inauguration with the students. He said: “This is a tremendous example of our students taking local action to address global issues. Our belief at the International School of Düsseldorf is that learning should inspire students to be curious, to be creative, and to find imaginative solutions to problems in their world.”
The Christmas market fundraiser
As part of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) at ISD, children are encouraged to contemplate complex social and environmental issues and to effect positive change in their local communities.
In grade 3 last year, as part of a unit of inquiry that examined supply chains, our students set themselves the ambitious challenge of organising a sustainable Christmas market fundraiser with a negligible waste output.
They quickly discovered that this wouldn’t be easy: baking supplies often use single use plastics; much of the fresh produce they consume is transported from overseas, thereby contributing to atmospheric pollution; and unwanted plastic Christmas ornaments can endure in landfill for centuries.
The students overcame these obstacles by repurposing recycled clothing and materials to make biodegradable decorations; eliminating virtually all plastics; and investigating different recipes with a view to using local products and minimising waste.
The market raised around 1620 euros, which the students agreed would be donated to support a River Clean-up initiative.
Mr Tschan said that the school has a long and storied history in Düsseldorf and is “joining forces” with the city to make a difference.
“ISD is firmly committed to forging strong partnerships here in Düsseldorf so that we can multiply the impact our students will make on this beautiful city. This is something we’ve done for more than 50 years.”Mr. Tschan