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For Paulo Macarrao, the recent Sustainability Week in Les Roches marked another big step along the road towards a more sustainable future for both the school and the wider hospitality industry.
“I think it went pretty well for our first attempt,” says Paulo, who is Sustainability Officer on campus. “We had more than a hundred students signing up for our voluntary workshops, which was great to see. Plus, you could hardly miss the posters, screens and other information spread throughout the campus, all promoting sustainability messages.”
Sustainability Week is a Switzerland-wide initiative which is the brainchild of VSFN, the Swiss Association of Student Organizations for Sustainability. Les Roches achieved a triple first with its participation in the event this year – it became the first school in Valais, the first Swiss private school and the first hospitality school to do so.
Paulo’s highlight was the students’ visit to the Maya Boutique Hotel, Europe’s first hotel built from straw and a 100% energy self-sufficient building, due to its solar panels and wood oven.
“We talk about these concepts in class, but it’s only when you can get out and actually see sustainable buildings in action that you really appreciate the thinking behind them,” he adds.
Another effect of Sustainability Week is that Les Roches’ Green Club, the student-led group dedicated to preserving the environment, has virtually doubled in size overnight! As the founder of the club Paulo is particularly pleased to see it go from strength to strength, under the current leadership of student Thomas Wilson.
Paulo says, “We are getting lots of new ideas for the club to promote. If we can deliver as many of these ideas as possible it will really show how committed Les Roches is to changing the way we operate. We have the opportunity to become a sustainability leader among hospitality schools.
One of the most important sustainability initiatives at the school right now is a war on single use plastic. This has become a major global talking point, as the world wakes up to the damage being done to our land and oceans by plastic waste.
“With the endorsement of school leadership, the Green Club has been pushing the use of reusable plates, cups and cutlery instead of giving out plastic versions,” says Paulo. “We are also going to issue every student with a reusable drink bottle, which they can refill over and over again instead of taking a paper cup or buying a single use plastic bottle.”
In the longer term, the Bluche campus aims to achieve the premier global standard for environmental management – ISO 14001:2015.
Campus Facility Manager Joceline Favre-Bulle is leading the project. She explains, “We are extremely excited to be embarking on this environmental journey. ISO 14001:2015 gives us the framework by which we can achieve our ultimate goal, which is to lower our carbon emissions to as close to zero as possible.
“It’s early days but we have signed the contract and are committed to the project. Now we are putting together the various teams that will deliver it.”
Both Joceline and Paulo are delighted to see the students stepping up to the plate when it comes to living more sustainably. Paulo says, “The students are receptive and this is vital, because they are the generation that cannot wait any longer to change the way we live our lives. Our students represent the future leaders of the hospitality industry, so they will be uniquely placed to drive change within their organisations – whether as employees or owners.
“That’s why it is so important for me that we guide them and show them that sustainability is the future of hospitality. We now have a platform to really change hearts and minds; and when it comes to the 2020 Sustainability Week I hope we will see many more great initiatives and lots more students wanting to get involved.”
Thank you to our Sustainability Officer, Paulo Macarrao.
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