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April 23, 2021

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Trade skills champs become eco-activists

PRINTERS stamp their imprint on the campaign to save the planet

The printing industry can make a big contribution in reducing waste and protecting the environment, according to Zhang Shuping, who won a silver medal in the print-media technology category at the 2015 WorldSkills Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Zhang, born in a village in neighboring Jiangsu Province, enrolled at Shanghai Publishing and Printing College after graduating from high school.

Even then, she never thought of printing as a career choice, but during her study at the college, a senior student named Wang Dongdong won a bronze medal at the 2013 WorldSkills Competition in Leipzig, Germany.

Admiring Wang’s achievement, Zhang put renewed vigor into her studies and was finally selected to participate in the 43rd WorldSkills Competition in Brazil.

“The competition assesses not only the skills you use to operate machinery to produce printed materials, but it also focuses on one’s awareness of the importance of maintaining a safe and sustainable environment,” she said.

“For example,” she explained, “we have to sort out recyclable waste after each task in the competition and handle all chemicals and hazardous materials in accordance with safety standards. I trained in those areas during preparation for the competition.”

Zhang said she is happy to see that green printing practices, ranging from recycling paper to eco-friendly materials, are being embraced in more countries around the world, including China.

“Many traditional printing technologies have had to be abandoned because of the pollution they cause,” she said. “More printing companies are transitioning to environmentally friendly printing materials, such as biodegradable soy ink.”

After the competition, Zhang was invited by her college to become a teacher and pass on what she has learned to new students. She accepted without hesitation.

She teaches her students to conserve paper, use eco-friendly materials and adopt other green printing practices. For example, she advises her students never to wrap used ink with paper, which can make the paper unfit for recycling.

“The Earth is mother of all human beings, and everyone bears the responsibility to protect her,” she said.

Editor’s note:First declared in 1970, Earth Day is now an annual event celebrated on April 22 around the world to support and promote environmental protection. In the WorldSkills community, some former contestants share their views on how trade skills have a role to play in saving the planet.Beauty therapist seeks to preserve the beauty of Mother Earth

Emmie Lindblad, a 24-year-old beauty therapist from Sweden, said she believes even the smallest individual changes can potentially have a noticeable impact if they snowball.

In high school, Lindblad was set to study economics until a facial treatment at a salon made her change career paths.

“As a beauty therapist,” she said, “you can help others feel better about themselves and offer them time for relaxation.”

At Gilda International Beauty School, where she studied, she was taught environmentally friendly practices and efficient use of materials.

“Teachers taught us to never use more products than we need for a treatment, and we always had specific amounts of things such as cotton pads,” she said. “We learned about the importance of reducing our waste.”

Salons use disposable materials to preserve cleanliness and sterility.

“But we learned that if you can employ reusable materials and tools, then you should,” Lindblad said. “Our cardinal rule is to use just as much material as necessary but no more than that.

Lindblad won a Beauty Therapy Sustainability Award at the 2019 WorldSkills competition in the Russian city of Kazan.

In her current job, she implements other green initiatives.

“My co-workers and I have decided to use and sell only one or two brands, so when we need resupply, we can make a bulk order to avoid small deliveries that can be damaging to the climate,” said Lindblad.

Lindblad comes in contact with a lot of people and said she believes that her commitment to preserving the Earth can be passed on.

“We are the future,” she said. “This planet is for our children and grandchildren, and it is our responsibility to keep it alive.”

An oily machine shop contributes to an eco-friendly environment

Severe drought is a periodic scourge in Australia. WorldSkills champion Clinton Larkings knows all about that. He comes from a dry inland region in the state of New South Wales.

“In New South Wales, we have to be careful of our water usage,” he said. “We just lived through one of the worst prolonged droughts on record. Water restrictions were imposed to keep usage at a minimum.

Larkings was a 2019 WorldSkills Kazan champion and Sustainability Award winner in the category of Industrial Mechanic Millwright.

He currently works as a fitter and turner at a repair machine shop, where he and other staff fix, repair and manufacture new parts for a wide range of industries, including agriculture, manufacturing and mining.

His work is heavily involved in installation and maintenance of industrial equipment. Larkings has implemented eco-friendly practices in his workshop, including waste management and material disposal.

“We recycle what we can whenever possible,” said Larkings, who calls his skill a “jack of all trades.”

“For example,” he explained, “we recycle our steel waste to a local scrap metal company and collect all oil waste oil to be send away for recycling. When we use materials like steel, bronze, aluminum and nylon, we try to use as little as possible to reduce unnecessary waste.”


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