More than a statement of philosophy, the Gisborne Montessori School’s vision underpins the very nature of what they do. The entire school community is dedicated to their vision of environmental sustainability within the principles of Montessori Education. The 10 acre grassed campus, with its majestic backdrop of the Macedon Ranges, provides them with the perfect canvas to turn their vision into reality. Knowing that children learn through modelling, not only is sustainability a lens through which the school’s curriculum is developed, it is also modelled by the teachers and staff in order to influence the development of good practises in the children; to live respectfully and to tread lighter on this earth.
Waste Management? More Management, Less Waste
With the relocation to their new campus in 2005, instead of connecting to the town’s sewage system, the school commissioned the installation of an A&A Worm Waste Farm to treat all black and grey water as well as process any organic waste from the school. Despite rapidly growing enrolments (60% growth), the school reduced its production of landfill waste by 33% in the first year. Previously the school disposed of 3 bins per week – 2 recycle and 1 landfill. The school now disposes of 2 bins per week – 1 landfill and 1 recycle bin per week. The students sort their rubbish into what can go into the worm farm, what is reusable (e.g. containers and paper that has only been used once) and what is landfill. All organic matter, kitchen scraps and paper (that has been used on both sides!), goes into the Worm Bin located in each classroom. The Worm Bins are then emptied into the worm farm every day. The worms process the organic matter and produce worm castings which are released into the soil via underground transpiration lines.
The classrooms produce very little waste. In accordance with the Montessori philosophy of real, concrete, abstract, Montessori classrooms are by their very nature predominantly made up of equipment rather than abstract tools such as paper. The materials / equipment / activities used in the classroom are all designed to be indefinitely reusable. The equipment is maintained every day to keep it in excellent condition. The students use the equipment respectfully and never abuse it. This coincides with Montessori’s philosophy in order to develop respect within a child, the child needs to practise respect externally in their environment. Other equipment is produced according to specified requirements in the most efficient manner and then laminated for long term preservation. This reduces the schools need to photocopy multitudes of paper, thus having a huge impact on reducing paper, power and ink consumption. Computer printer use is minimized through using pre-used paper for all drafts. No prints are made unless they have been checked by staff and fast draft print is used unless the copy is for presentation. The ultimate aim for the school is to provide a learning landscape that develops a passion for preserving the environment: helping people of all ages understand why, know what can be done, how to do it and have certainty around their ability to make a difference.