Set up by Andy and Mei Budden, current parents and long-time supporters of UWCSEA, the Budden Initiative sponsors senior student-led projects that put UWC’s mission and ethos into practice and make a difference to College, and possibly to the wider community.
Having received proposals that ranged from addressing sanitation issues in a slum in India and using art to connect Singaporean and Malaysian communities, to promoting children’s literacy issues in Sri Lanka, the Budden’s selected a composting programme for the Dover Campus as the first project to benefit from funding.
Put together by Grade 11 students Jochem Janssens, Siddharth Panandiker, William Sandlund, Alexander Smit, Antoine Vandenborre and Michael van der Mark, the idea to build a composting area within the school grounds struck a chord with Andy Budden. He explained “We had some really well thought out and articulated proposals, but we liked the fact that this idea would tackle environmental issues and potentially bring about a permanent change in waste management that had the potential to impact a large part of UWCSEA community”.
In January 2013 the group behind the winning proposal put their plans into place and began working with the Facilities Team at Dover Campus to source the ideal location and make the necessary preparation for their composting facility. Keen to make the best use of resources available, they scoured the maths block building site for suitable rubble, also known as ‘hardcore’ and collected old bits of wood that would eventually form the base of their vegetable planter boxes. Giving up their Saturdays and after school time, the “hands-on” group were determined to build a community area that mattered and would leave a lasting legacy for the whole College community.
On 26 February, with the composting bins built and ready for service, the group began collecting vegetable and fruit peelings from Sodexo and, 50kgs of peelings later; the composting programme was born. With stage one completed, the group are now busily preparing their first planter box. Having been inspired by the Community Garden at East Campus, the box will feature chilli, basil and mint and be open to the whole community to make use of in exchange for a small donation.
When asked why the group chose to focus on composting, William Sandlund (Billy) explained: “We saw the Budden Initiative as a fantastic opportunity to put what we have learned at UWCSEA into action and begin addressing a real concern – the amount of waste we produce. We are passionate about protecting the environment and promoting sustainability. This project allows us to educate others about where food comes and make much better use of the waste we produce so that it reaps benefits for our community.”
Alexander Smit (Xander) agrees: “It was our chance to be the change we want to see in the world and, thanks to the Budden Initiative, we are making a difference. We hope this will be the start of something special and, over time, transform students’ attitudes to food waste.”
Andy and Mei Budden have been delighted with the progress of the composting programme, and that their initiative received such an enthusiastic response from the students: “Mei and I are firm believers in the UWC mission and we also love the diversity in the College community. Our aim with the Initiative is simply to demonstrate what can be achieved when a diverse group of students comes together to share a common purpose that can enrich the broader UWCSEA community”.
Looking to the future, the group will be spreading the word about their project and building more planter boxes. Based on the response they have received so far and the connections they have made with environmental Global Concern groups, they are confident that composting will be here to stay at Dover.