"Children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way”, sang Whitney Houston in one of her all-time favourite songs. And it certainly seems that learning good habits while young is far easier than un-learning bad habits when we are older.
Clare Baptist, assistant principal at Bronte Public School believes the key to getting this right from the start is in real-life hands-on experiences – from solar panels to veggie gardens all the way to the Bronte Loves Our Earth campaign. I caught up with Claire to find out more.
What is your favourite thing about being a teacher at Bronte Public School (BPS)?
I would have to say “a sense of community”. It is so inspiring to see people come together, the sense of belonging allows us to achieve wonderful things on a daily basis.
What is the Bronte Loves our Earth campaign?
Bronte Loves Our Earth is a shared vision of the BPS community. We aim to protect the environment and benefit the local community. There are many components, but our main focus for 2018 is to be a single use plastic-free school and for all students to have 100% "nude food" five days a week.
Why is it so important to have a sustainable school?
We are so close to the beach, there are constant reminders of the impact we have on the environment. Recently, on a walk through Bronte Gully with the students, we saw lots of polystyrene balls near the waterfall. The children could easily see where they came from and how they would travel into the ocean and harm the wildlife.
How are you cutting down on waste?
We are encouraging 100% nude food– meaning lunches with no wrappers – we are composting, recycling and cutting out single use plastics from the canteen. The canteen have been very supportive and have switched to bamboo cutlery and are now phasing out straws. We also collect and recycle plastic ‘fruit cups’ for art.
We create much less waste now and by the end of 2018 we aim to have no bins on our playground at all!
How does the My Organic School food co-op support your goals?
Our community can buy affordable organic food boxes which spreads the concept of locally grown food. My Organic School have been a huge funding contributor for our vegie beds. The students get hands-on experience in growing and eating healthy food. We create quick and easy salads, wraps and basil pesto. Parents have been amazed when their children came home and ask to make a cabbage salad!
What are your top three tips for other schools and parents trying to do something similar?
- Start with student awareness by looking at how you can effect change in your school environment, giving a real life meaning to your project.
- Implement Nude Food lunches – it reduces waste going into landfill and litter in the school playground, meaning cleaner oceans.
- Tap into the strengths and talents of the community, allow individuals to shine. People feel valued when they have contributed to a positive change.
BPS has also installed solar power as part of the free Council Solar my School Program.
Find out more about how schools can get support for sustainability: firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about My Organic School can be found here.
Join the Eastern Suburbs Sustainable Schools Network meetings for sustainability support in schools and early learning centres.