Our Waste Learning Story
Where we started
At Strathaird Primary School we have developed a wide range of strategies to reduce waste. Despite implementing and running measures well, and seeing an overall decrease in rubbish since starting Resource Smart Schools in 2008, we have struggled to reach the benchmark and seen an increase in rubbish since 2017. We decided to identify where the rubbish was coming from in order to make a rubbish management plan.
To gain some data we conducted a rubbish across the school. We found:
- 80% of rubbish in classroom bins was rubbish bought from home. This was comprised of food waste, chip packets, ziplock bags and cling wrap.
- Other ‘waste’ includes a lot of paper, tissues and paper towel
- Teachers generate a lot of plastic waste from laminating (off cuts)
- Recycling buckets mostly contained ‘juice boxes’ and mini mineral water bottles from lunch orders. (Juice boxes can no longer be recycled in the City of Casey recycling program)
- The canteen generates a high amount of waste with all foods being heavily packaged including plastic tube icypoles and plastic bags for licorice and popcorn. A lot of this rubbish ends up in the yard as students eat it near the canteen.
- Staffroom waste included a lot of food, plastic milk bottles, long life milk cartons (no longer recyclable in our area), cardboard packaging, coffee cups (coffee van comes regularly), food wrappings and non recyclable packaging.
- Approximately a quarter of the teachers have rubbish free lunches
We also conducted a litter audit around the yard. Although levels of litter have decreased since we started the Resource Smart School program there is still a reasonable amount of litter in the yard. Some of this litter can be attributed to blowing in from the local neighborhood (especially around fence lines), dumped litter from the local area, litter from the canteen (such as icypole tubes, canteen paper bags and plastic bags the children purchase licorice in). The majority of litter still found in the yard is soft plastics including chip packets,
What we have done
(written on See Saw by students of The Green Team during remote learning)
Rubbish Free lunches/ Nude food program
At Strathaird we have a program called Rubbish Free lunch! Everyday you and your classmates have the aim to have no rubbish in your lunchboxes and then we count the amount of rubbish free food your class has with the most rubbish free lunch points getting an award at assembly. The rewards are a Golden Lunhbox, ‘Bingo’ the dingo and 2 new animals an Edward emu and Enchilda echidna. This helps our environment because it encourages kids at a young age not to have a lot of rubbish that could fly anywhere or into the ocean, which we don’t want. So we are hoping that soon our whole school will be rubbish free. by Catrina
On our nude food program if we bring less wrappers and less waste then there will be less sent to the tip. By Nehad.
We have recently had our Rubbish Free Lunch Policy approved by school council. This policy states that students are to bring rubbish free lunches to school and any rubbish that is not food/ recycling or paper is taken home again for families to dispose of (or recycle in the case of soft plastic).
At SPS we love to recycle and have kids who are Waste Warriors at each year level. As a waste warrior you are in charge of emptying the paper bin, recycling bin and food bucket. They do a great job! Then we have the Green Team which is in charge of all the environmental things being done in the school. With all the waste in our school it is a lot of money us to empty the big dumper bin so that is why we have nude food and rubbish free lunches. By Ethan
Here at Strathaird we help the environment by sorting different types of rubbish in 4 separate bins. Each classroom has a blue cardboard box for paper recycling, a green plastic bucket for council collected recycling like yogurt tubs and drink containers, a black caddy with a green lid for food waste and a black bin for general waste that can’t be recycled. To keep the system going, each grade has Waste Warriors – students given the task of emptying the bins and cleaning the buckets.
The purpose of the worm farm is that the scraps we don’t use can have another purpose which is to be eaten by the worms who turn it into compost. They also make a liquid casting you can put on the plants in our vegetable garden to help the food grow. By Sebastian.
We have 5 worm farms but 32 classes and the worms only eat fruit and vegetable scraps but not citrus. We have 5 classes only feeding the worms or there is too much food.
The worm castings add calcium, magnesium, nitrogen and phosphorus to the soil while removing toxins. Once the food is all eat the worms are separated from the compost and the castings would be brown and earthy and ready to add to the garden. by Neisha
No Rubbish in the yard
What we do at Strathaird Primary School is we don’t take rubbish outside and throw them on the ground. We put them inside our classroom in the bin and during snack and lunch we have to empty buckets of water on the plants. By Farzard
Eating inside and not taking rubbish outside stops rubbish from getting dropped outside. If you have a lunch order you are allowed to eat it only on the stage near the canteen. As much rubbish as possible needs to be left inside.
Compost Cones/ food Digesters
Around the school yard there are green cones for food waste. The classes collect their left over food in a black compost caddy and put it into the cone. The cone has a basket at the bottom which is buried under the ground. The basket has spaces so bugs can get in and liquid and nutrients can get out. The good rots down and is eaten by the bugs. It helps the soil and nearby plants grow. by Fida and Tiara
We have 2 more food digesters which are shortly to go into the ground. Between the 4 digesters and the worm farms all our food waste should be covered. Any excess food waste can now be placed in the City of Casey green waste bins for commercial recycling.
We have established a community recycling hub for household items. These include lots of Terracycle recycling such as contact lenses, toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes, plastic writing implements, bunch of balloons, bottle caps, bread tags, batteries and mobile phones. We support our community by recycling more than can be put in the recycling bin.
Our fortnightly newsletters focus on a variety of sustainability issues but a lot of focus this year has been on Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rubbish Free Lunches. We educated the community about our Terracycle program, how to use and access RED CYCLE, changes to local council recycling systems and how to create worm farms and compost bins. We also share student work and achievements.
Parent Rubbish Free Lunch sessions & Survey/ Trial Rubbish Free Lunch competition
We decided to conduct a Rubbish Free Lunch trial with 4 classes across the school for two terms. Firstly we conducted surveys of the parents, students and teachers to find out their attitudes, thoughts and any issues associated with Rubbish Free lunches. While most students and families were aware of why we have rubbish free lunches, many were unsure on how to implement them. Through the trial classes we:
- Ran a parent workshop on Rubbish Free Lunches
- Sent home information including ideas for types of packaging and where to purchase it
- Ran articles in the newsletter including recipes for nude food
- Worked with students on setting goals for rubbish free lunches
- Ran a competition between the classes over two terms where the goal was to have 95% rubbish free lunches.
- Took away classroom bins and only provided a very small office size bin for tissues, bandaids and paper towel for hygiene and provided just paper recycling, mixed recycling and compost. Sent home any rubbish outside of these areas.
Trialed RED CYCLE soft plastic recycling
As the students had so much soft plastic rubbish every day we decided to collect the soft plastics and take them to the supermarket for recycling. Each grade produced 1-2 bags of soft plastics per week. After some time we decided to stop this program as we did not have enough parent helpers to take the plastic to the supermarket, teachers felt it was not their responsibility and most importantly we were not achieving the concept of REDUCE. This is what led us to developing the take home rubbish policy along with education about how families can access redcycle.
This year we joined the Dolphin Research Institute’s ‘i see, i care’ Marine Ambassadors Program. Six Grade 6 students were chosen after an application process and they have been involved in workshops and much online learning about oceans, catchments and caring for Marine Environments. The have produced a See Saw video/ poster presentation to the whole school while on remote learning about caring for catchments including picking up dog poo, how litter impacts on catchments, what catchments are, washing your car on the lawn etc. The also included some factual information about some animals that live in our catchment and learned how to present information in a way that catches and maintains audience interest. The feedback from students from Prep to Grade 6 was extremely positive.
Our green team coordinate the litter and waste audits and any environmental work throughout the school. The Green team are address the waste issues (while being Covid safe) by making videos to share with all the classes based on:
- Rubbish free lunches
- Eat inside and don’t take your food in the yard
- The effects of littering
- Putting waste in the correct bins
They also have presented on these topics at our zoom assemblies.
Waste is embedded in much of our sustainability curriculum including:
- comparing waste created by Aboriginal people to our habits today (Grade 5 Sacred Land),
- looking at the impact of waste on birds and reptiles in our school (Grade 1 what lives in our school),
- examining how long various items take to break down (Grade 5 War on Waste),
- learning about how recycling works (Grade Prep What it means to be green)
- the affect of waste on water and biodiversity (Grade 3 What’s in the water, Grade 4 Biodiversity, Conservation and Endangerment)
- Looking at Waste from a Global Perspective through the Sustainable Development Goals (Grade 6 Action planning for a Sustainable future)
What we will implement in the future
- The ‘Take your rubbish home’ policy will be put into full action starting in 2021. We are currently in the process in educating the community through newsletters, posters and a presentation on the School Website about Rubbish Free Lunches. We hope our waste data next year will reflect this through a decrease in waste.
- Continue to educate the community that we cannot recycle juice boxes and tetra packs anymore so these must go in the bin. We will also encourage our families to find alternatives to these packages.
- Run a campaign re-teaching classes how to use the different recycling systems. This will include videos each class can watch, made by the Green Team, showing them what to do.
- Continue to install food digesters (already purchased) and make sure all classes have food caddies.
- Resume Litter pick up Post Covid and reinforce ‘Eat inside, No rubbish in the yard’ through Marine Ambassadors with focus on the effect of litter on Marine Life
- Grow student knowledge of oceans and catchments through the Marine Ambassadors Program
- Having a series of paper free days where all classes run their lessons without paper.
- The current canteen contract is up for tender and a sustainability and waste reduction focus will be part of the successful tender.
- Our Before and After School care provider “Their care” is very keen to be involved in our recycling program. They have paper, cardboard and mixed recycling and will join the green cone system once further digesters are installed.
- We will continue to collect our waste data, monitor progress and share this with our community.