5. Can you share a school sustainability project or story that you’ve heard about that stood out for you?
I’m aware that there are SO many wonderful school sustainable projects happening globally – I acknowledge what it takes for a school staff to plan, implement and manage these projects, especially ones that exist perpetually. I took eight students to Edendale Farms ‘Kids Teaching Kids’ conference in 2019 – this is a magnificent forum for kids to be together and share many ways of being sustainable at school, and vicariously at home. I was captured by Montmorency South Primary School’s playground seat made of ‘bricks’ made up of two-litre plastic milk bottles filled to the brim with soft plastics by the students – the bottle and plastics were upcycled to make these ‘bricks’ which were laid in shape and then rendered to create a lovely, usable bench.
At our school we are seeking to have our classroom general waste bins not lined with a plastic bag by the end of 2021; we can achieve this if the students and staff continue to use the other waste receptacles (compost, mixed recycling, soft plastics) properly. By doing so, very little should need to go into the general waste bin and indeed, nothing messy should need to go in them so the need for a plastic bag will be void. Although our cleaner does not change the plastic bag every day for each bin, we still use a lot of plastic bags so this should save around 40-50 black plastic bags going to landfill each week. Although I have a responsibility to guide much of our action at Eltham PS, it is driven by our four Grade 6 Sustainability Leaders and our eighteen member student Sustainability Team. These students have a genuine interest in hands-on, real-time sustainable action and are vigorous participants in all of our sustainable management work.
6. What is your favourite environmental education resource for schools?
There are many resources and I don’t have a particular favourite.
The Sustainability in Schools website is wonderful, CERES School of Nature and Climate website is just a marvellous ‘real-time’ resource for community members to visit along with the other digital resources they provide to schools within the ResourceSmart Schools program, visits to Healesville Sanctuary are so beneficial – sustainable learning is so broad so the diversity of physical and digital resources is so important. Real books, that kids can open and refer to, are vital resources too and schools have a role to play to have such books available for curious kids to flip through.
7. If you could be a sustainability superhero, what name would you choose and what powers would you have to make the world more sustainable into the future?
My favourite Australian animal is the wedge-tailed eagle, what a beautiful creature. They are known for their amazing vision, and perhaps if we take some liberty with this question, they also show foresight. My sustainability superpower would then be foresight and vision; being able to be aware of what is needed for our sustainable future and having the ability to generate a plausible, valid and manageable vision for the implementation of those sustainable practices. Specifically, I’d like to use these super powers at low level areas like sporting clubs, kindergartens, small towns etc., places where the general population can sometimes feel overwhelmed by what is possible to the point that nothing effective is done. My super powers would give them guidance, and the capacity to see how small actions can make a larger difference. The global stuff is daunting to many people, and the big ticket sustainable areas are the responsibility of government and big business; local people want to undertake local action knowing that this will have broader scale impact.
So perhaps my sustainable super hero name could be ‘Percepta’ – a derivative of perception which encompasses foresight and vision.