Schools do­ing their bit for sus­tain­abil­ity

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Education Week 2018 -

Help­ing pick up pa­per, food wrap­pers, bot­tles and any other rub­bish that ac­cu­mu­lated in a school yard was one of those oner­ous tasks for stu­dents ros­tered on to help with yard duty.

But school com­mu­ni­ties are now look­ing be­yond sim­ple clean-ups and look­ing at the is­sue waste, as part of an over­all ac­knowl­edge­ment of a need to teach sus­tain­able prac­tices, in a much broader way.

The ef­forts of re­gional schools in de­vel­op­ing a greater un­der­stand­ing of en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity has im­pressed an au­thor­ity re­spon­si­ble for co-or­di­nat­ing waste ser­vices across much of western Vic­to­ria.

Grampians Cen­tral West Waste and Re­source Re­cov­ery Group has noted a sig­nif­i­cant buy-in from schools as part of a vol­un­tary statewide Re­sources­mart Schools pro­gram.

Sus­tain­abil­ity Vic­to­ria pro­motes the pro­gram and the re­cov­ery group man­ages it across an area in­clud­ing the Wim­mera.

Re­cov­ery group ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer La Vergne Lehmann said schools tack­led waste, en­ergy, wa­ter and bio­di­ver­sity through op­er­a­tions, cur­ricu­lum and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment.

“Some of our schools are do­ing amaz­ing work with their stu­dents and com­mu­ni­ties,” she said.

Ms Lehmann said Re­sources­mart Schools was a free pro­gram that helped schools man­age en­ergy, waste and wa­ter in en­vi­ron­men­tally and cost-ef­fec­tive ways.

“Not only do the schools save money, but stu­dents are also in­volved in lead­ing the process in their school,” she said.

“Schools are en­cour­aged to es­tab­lish an en­vi­ron­men­tal lead­er­ship team with their stu­dents, who drive the process for their school.”

Stephanie Alexan­der

This year Grampians Cen­tral West Waste and Re­source Re­cov­ery Group has teamed with a Stephanie Alexan­der Kitchen Gar­den Pro­gram to of­fer both pro­grams at min­i­mal cost to schools. Schools re­ceive train­ing for the pro­grams and ben­e­fit from hav­ing a fa­cil­i­ta­tor reg­u­larly visit them.

Ms Lehmann said this had re­sulted in a 30 per­cent in­crease in the num­ber of schools tak­ing up the Re­sources­mart Schools pro­gram this year.

“We know that if stu­dents learn about these things at school, they are able to take that knowl­edge home and pass it on to their fam­i­lies,” she said.

“Know­ing how to read an en­ergy bill and iden­ti­fy­ing how much power is on peak or off peak in their home can save their fam­ily some money as well.”

A Re­sources­mart Schools Awards event for the re­gion will be in early De­cem­ber.

“Cel­e­bra­tion is a re­ally im­por­tant part of the Re­sources­mart Schools pro­gram and that means cel­e­brat­ing the achieve­ments of the schools as they progress through their mod­ules as well as some of the out­stand­ing ac­tiv­i­ties that are hap­pen­ing in those schools and com­mu­ni­ties,” Ms Lehmann said.

There are more than 70 schools across a broad re­gion in­volved in the pro­gram, which has ex­panded into early learn­ing cen­tres and com­mu­nity or neigh­bour­hood houses.

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