When the bell rang to signal the start of lunch on 22 and 23 November 2018, students passing through the galleria slowed their steps for MGCI Eco Team’s annual Eco-Ex as the aroma of hot chocolate drifted through the air and brightly colored signs advertising taste testing caught their eyes.

Eco-Ex is an initiative run by Garneau’s Eco Team every year in hopes of educating students about the environment and reminding them of their responsibility to take care of it. The event consists of numerous booths stationed throughout the galleria that display information about being more eco-friendly.

As in previous years, this year’s Eco-Ex had stations that offered an organic food taste test, where students tried to differentiate between organic and non-organic food, and a honey taste test, where students got to learn about pollinators. There was also a water taste test station, where the benefits of drinking tap water rather than bottled water were explained, as well as a gardening workshop where students learned to take care of a bean plant and even got to take one home. There was also a Lug-a-Mug station where students were given free hot chocolate if they brought something reusable to drink it in, and a DIY station where they learned how to make bookmarks out of reusable materials.

Students who attended Eco Ex received free hot chocolate at the Lug-a-Mug station if they brought their own reusable mug. Photo: Janet Chen

As well as the usual stations mentioned above, two new ones were added this year. One was Recycling Roulette, where students played a game to win candy. The goal of the game was to put waste into its corresponding bin: garbage, recycling, or compost. The game was very popular, with more than fifty participants over the span of two lunch periods. The other new station was a petition stall where students had the opportunity to sign a petition to protect natural areas in Toronto.

Students sort garbage at the Recycling Roulette exhibit to win a prize. Image: Janet Chen

Eco-Ex had a large turnout this year and students felt that they benefited from it. “I definitely learned things I hadn’t known before coming [to Eco-Ex]. Before today I hadn’t really thought about the fact that organic food actually tastes different from normal food, and that drinking tap water has so many benefits. I also liked that we were able to do hands-on activities and have them demonstrated to us,” said grade 10 student Tharanya Paskaran.

Eco Team was also satisfied with the event; they were pleased to see that their hard work and planning had paid off. “Our goal was to remind people that that we need to to be more aware of our own environment in ways that will stay with them, and it seems we have accomplished that. When students participated in the Recycling Roulette, they may have done it just to get candy, but at the same time they also learned about the different waste bins and what goes in them,” said Eco Team President Tazik Shahjahan.

The current Eco Team President was not the only one who was happy with the way things went. Former Eco Team President Lisa Wang, who graduated from Garneau last year, happened to be visiting the school on the first day of Eco-Ex. She expressed her happiness that Eco Team is still working to make our school and the world a better place.“It’s great to see that Eco Team is still doing their best and that so many more students are coming out to learn about what they do. I’m really impressed at this year’s initiative,” she said.

Aside from Eco-Ex, Eco Team has several other eco-friendly initiatives planned for this year such as the Trashion Show, where students are challenged to design an outfit made completely from recycled materials such as CDs, paper cups, and tin foil. In addition, the club plans to host an Eco Movie Screening, where a movie related to environmental issues will be shown.

Based on the success of the past two days, these initiatives are sure to attract an even larger crowd than was seen at Eco-Ex, which left students empowered and prepared to make their school and the world a better place.