Supporting Youth Environmental Education With ZeroWaste Switzerland

Supporting Youth Environmental Education With ZeroWaste Switzerland

The Zero Waste Educational Kit includes creative and interactive activities and fact sheets for students ages five to 15. Photo courtesy of ZeroWaste Switzerland.

Education lesson about Zero Waste methods in a classroom. Photo courtesy of ZeroWaste Switzerland.

Visual educational project created by a student about zero waste practices. Photo courtesy of ZeroWaste Switzerland.

Thursday, April 22, 2021 - 8:00am


Every year on April 22, the global community comes together to celebrate Earth Day by engaging in collective action and growing awareness for earth-friendly ways of living. Eco-friendly concepts gaining particular awareness this year include circular economy and Zero Waste. Both aim to transform the current wasteful system of production and consumption into a more sustainable one in which materials are kept in use and waste is drastically reduced to preserve the environment and thus human health. With this important vision in mind, we are excited to highlight an impactful initiative supported by ON Semiconductor which catalyzes impact at the intersection of education and sustainability.

In 2019, ON Semiconductor awarded a grant supporting ZeroWaste Switzerland, an environmentally-focused organization working to inspire and support communities, businesses and public institutions in Switzerland to reduce waste at the source. Through enabling waste prevention and reduction in addition to facilitating concrete and lasting behavioral change in people’s everyday lives, ZeroWaste Switzerland’s programs are helping to incite systemic changes related to sustainable waste reduction and management across society.

The ON Semiconductor grant played an important role in assisting this mission by providing support to develop and test educational kits for schools centered on zero waste practices and waste reduction in the classroom. With age-adapted content for school children from ages five to 15, a variety of fun activities included in the educational kits help to explain the basic concepts behind zero waste and its importance in protecting the environment. Kit contents also included discovery sheets on subjects such as resources and waste management, creative sheets tied to zero waste activities and recreational games fostering a “learning by doing” model of awareness and education. Informing teachers and class facilitators of concepts and actions related to zero waste practices was also an important piece of the program and was supported through educator specific booklet guides.

Test pilot kits were launched in the region of Geneva, Switzerland in the later months of 2019 and were tested in classrooms, where 380 students were able to engage with the material. At one participating school, teachers received feedback from the school janitor who said they noticed the amount of litter had decreased since the ZeroWaste Switzerland educational initiative began. Parents also communicated how students took newly learned zero waste concepts home, where children encouraged them to pack lunch in a reusable container.

As a teacher on the green team from Vigne Rouge School, which is participating in the Zero Waste educational kit program, stated:

“It's amazing, the janitor is noticing that there is less trash in the garbage cans! It seems that after showing our bin full of snack waste, in just one week, students have made efforts to bring fewer packaged snacks.”

Unfortunately in March 2020, stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced the program to be put on hold as schools no longer held in-person classes. Many students were unable to engage in remote learning due to a lack of home computers or internet, which caused greater challenges for the trajectory and plan of the educational kit program.

Despite the pandemic putting classroom activities on hold, ZeroWaste Switzerland continued to develop their plan for kit distribution with hopes to continue the program when it is safe to do so later this year. At completion, the program aims to have helped educate 40,000 students across Switzerland to catalyze sustainable behavioral change and sustainable waste reduction. 

ON Semiconductor recognizes how educational initiatives like those developed by ZeroWaste Switzerland play an important role in helping to make progress towards United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production. Educating young people about sustainability concepts related to zero waste assists in sparking a greater awareness of their impact on the planet and positively affecting everyday behavior for the rest of their lives.

Visit ON Semiconductor Foundation to explore how we support charities and environmental organizations through charitable giving.​