Introducing waste management in Australian primary schools is important for improving a community’s quality of life. Educating children on how to act sustainably with waste benefits the environment, not only for today, but also for our future. Additionally, correct waste segregation and reduction methods significantly reduces costs for the school.
A majority of the waste produced in schools is made up of food, paper, plastic and packaging. Up to 86% of that waste can be reused or recycled. According to Sustainability Victoria, there is a hierarchy to show the most sustainable methods of waste disposal in a school environment, with avoidance, reduction and reuse placing as the top three of that hierarchy.
1. Encourage daily clean-ups
When encouraging students to clean up the classroom at the end of the day, or the school yard at the end of lunch time, simply reminding them what waste belongs in which bin can make a great impact on the sustainability of your school environment.
Most children learn through repetition, and learning how to segregate waste at a young age will take your students well into a sustainable future.
2. Use clear signs
Students also learn well using visuals, which can assist in teaching waste segregation to reduce landfill by encouraging recycling.
- Use clear signage to teach your students to use the correct bins
- Use icons or images to show what waste belongs in which bins
- Colour co-ordinate the bins
3. Turn it into a project
Waste audits are conducted by waste management providers, but they can also be a fun and engaging project for your students to learn about sustainability.
Conducting a waste audit includes:
- Identifying the waste streams produced by the school
- Measuring the volume of waste produced
- Analysing how the waste is managed
Students are then encouraged to discuss and set goals on how to reduce their waste and improve the classroom’s sustainability.
4. Use less paper
Paper makes up a majority of classroom waste, and there are some very simple methods of reducing a student’s paper consumption:
- Encourage your students to use both sides of the paper in their school books
- Rather than recycling right away, keep un-used scrap paper in a pile for future projects
- If students end the school year with un-used exercise books, encourage them to donate them to the classroom to use the next year
5. No waste lunches
Encouraging zero waste lunches can prove to be educational, not only for students, but also for parents.
Here are some simple tips:
- Replace plastic water bottles with reusable plastic or steel bottles
- Replace zip lock bags and glad wrap with tupperware
- Use cloth napkins and metal cutlery
- Pack more fruit. Not only is fruit a healthy snack, it also produces only compostable waste.
- Encourage any leftover food scraps to go to compost, rather than to regular bins that are heading to landfill.
Similar to an initiative like Walk To School Day, dedicating a day to bringing a zero waste lunch is also a great way to educate the students.
6. Start a donations box
Children grow out of their clothes and toys quickly, so imagine how many unwanted items your students have at home. Starting a donations box in your classroom, which you can then drop off to your local op shop, encourages your students to give back to the community and reduce the world’s overall waste consumption. And I’m sure parents would love you encouraging the kids to declutter the house!
A twist to this idea is hosting a clothing swap. This will work well if the whole school is involved, so parents can choose from a range of sizes for their growing children.
Is your school looking for a sustainable and affordable waste management solution? At Nationwide Waste Solutions, we provide top of the class services including regular waste disposal, recycling, and washroom services. Hear from one of our satisfied clients in the education industry or call us on 1300 729 922 for more information.