Local primary school students attended waste management workshops recently thanks to Walcha Council’s senior manager of water, sewer and waste Tess Dawson.
Walcha Central School, St Patrick’s Primary School and Woolbrook Primary School were all visited by Marc Harper, sustainability educator with Keep NSW Beautiful (KNSWB) an apolitical organisation which has run the EnviroMentors program since 1994.
EnviroMentors consists of different workshops that cover a range of current environmental issues.
“All modules are designed to engage students through movement and fun activities,” Mr Harper said.
“Students and teachers learnt about what goes into each bin – garbage, recycle and garden organics. They also learnt how to recycle correctly (squish cardboard boxes, empty bottles and cans, remove lids) and the impacts of contamination when the wrong things go into the bin.”
Mr Harper also spoke about alternative places for food waste such as composting and worm farming, and he says the Walcha students were more aware of these options than urban children.
“They did have more knowledge about alternative places to put food and garden waste,” he said.
“Their knowledge of the different bins was on par with other schools I visit, and they were eager to build upon this prior knowledge.”
After six years of visiting New South Wales primary schools, Mr Harper said he has learned that children do care about sustainability.
Kids care a lot about the environmentMarc Harper
“Kids care a lot about the environment,” he said.
“Many schools have introduced infrastructure that has allowed students to act sustainably such as recycling bins, garden beds, compost and worm farms, and more recently raising money through return and earn.”
However, there is a need for more education about waste disposal.
“Most kids knowledge about recycling in pretty basic,” Mr Harper said.
“They know the more common items that can be recycled. I aim to educate them about the variety of items that can and cannot be recycled. Many students think you can put clothing, squishy plastic, lights globes and drinking glasses in the recycling bin -you cannot!”
Mr Harper also shared his top three changes a household can make to help the environment: recycle the right things, compost, and participate in return and earn schemes.