This year (2010) The Academy of Mary Immaculate Green Team placed waste management as high regard. Firstly, the Green Team recognised that waste management and waste behaviour was a large problem at our school. Through much discussion the students identified the time and areas where littering became problematic. The students concluded that recess and lunch were a large part of the problem, so strategies were put into place to help target this area. Firstly the leadership team constructed a cleanup timetable that rostered one homeroom a week to pick up rogue rubbish in the yard at the end of lunch. This immediately showed improvement, and the cleanliness of the school grounds created a nicer place to sit and enjoy break times. This task then allowed us to see how much rubbish was actually being brought into the school. To tackle this problem the Green Team decided that it might help to make one day a month a rubbish free day. We promoted the concept to the students asking them to treat the school as though it were a national park. Anything you bring in you must take home with you. These first few months were only trail runs and therefore were not documented, as many students were still discovering ways in which to bring their lunches to school without wrapping etc. As the year went on we began to expect more from these days, encouraging the canteen to participate and offering prizes to the homeroom with the most participants. For our last rubbish free lunch we upped the antic and promoted the cause for a longer period of time, offering a ‘afternoon tea’ (rubbish free of course)to the homeroom with the most participants. We also recorded our rubbish intake. The Green Team counted the rubbish intake of an average day and compared it to our last rubbish free lunch. The results were startling. We discovered that on an average day 7.215c2m of rubbish was collected; however, after our rubbish free lunch only 3.919c2m was collect, almost halving our intake.
Another success for our waste management was our general recycling bin collection. The students emailed our council and discovered that as the school is involved in the ‘sustainable core module’ we were in able to receive three general waste recycling bins at no cost to the school. This may be a small amount, but it a great beginning for our school. The students have accepted these into the school well, understanding immediately what is acceptable recycling as they have been recycling at home for years.
Another achievement was to gain more paper recycling bins. The Green Team discussed that there was only one paper recycling bin in each building. These bins would fill quickly and then other paper would be thrown away with the general waste. The year level coordinators donated money to the Green Team so they could buy one large bin for each floor level and small bins for each classroom. This reduced the paper to waste by 85%, which was a great achievement, however there are still some behaviour changes that need to be made.
The Green Team’s goal is for next year is to encourage most of our rubbish content to be recycled and to reduce in school waste by 40% and school yard waste by 90%. We still have a way to go, but we certainly feel that we are on the right track.