Did you know, Australians produce more than 500 kilograms of household waste every single year? According to Clean Up Australia, that is over 10 kilograms of waste per person per WEEK! If that’s not enough, every year about 130,000 tonnes of Aussie plastic waste doesn’t just end up in the bin — it ends up in our oceans and waterways.
While it seems like more people are talking about recycling and sustainability than ever before, unfortunately the challenges around waste in Australia haven’t decreased. It’s important that we all do our bit to do better, and keep the planet thriving for the future. Positive habits around caring for the environment can be learned at any age, but why not start early? Plus, children actually have a lot of fun contributing to a healthy world and enjoy knowing that they are protecting their local flora and fauna.
Clean Up Australia Day takes place on Sunday 7 March, but you can get involved with schools and community groups on Friday 5 March for Schools Clean Up Day. Find a pre-organised event on the website, or create your own clean up activities! This might be taking a walk and cleaning around your local area at the park, beach or local streets.
Keeping Australia (and the world) clean and healthy goes far beyond one day too, so why not make a commitment to improving your centre’s focus on sustainable practices. Clean Up Australia recommends considering your approach to environmental care and landfill reduction by looking at Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost. You can apply some of these for your centre and in homes:
Refuse: Say ‘no’ to the things you really don’t need. Whether you could do without a shopping bag, or you don’t need the freebies the supermarket is giving out. Opt for fruits and vegetables that don’t have needless wrapping and packaging. Decline a straw or use a reusable straw.
Reduce: If you can’t refuse, you could reduce instead. This could be buying clothes only when you need them. Reducing the number of plastic items you purchase and eating leftovers.
Reuse: Reusing things is an excellent way of helping to reduce waste. There are so many ways we can do this. Using refillable containers for drinking as well as for handwash, toiletries and more minimises waste. Washed plastic containers from takeaway shops, egg cartons and milk bottles can all be used in centres and homes to store things and as the basis for art and craft projects. Also, take a reusable takeaway coffee cup for cafés to fill for you and carry a reusable straw and shopping bags.
Recycle: Recycling goes a long way to reduce the impact of pollution and helps to keep the planet in good shape. At Bonkers Beat Music Kinder we have rubbish and recycle bins arranged in each room and discuss with children the importance of using the correct bin. Needless to say, children are fascinated to learn that their off-cuts of used scrap paper can be turned into tissues, newspapers, kitty litter and moulded cartons for eggs and fruit. A good key to recycling effectively is to always aim to buy recyclable items. This means avoiding things that are packaged in materials that need to be separated and make recycling challenging.
Compost: Composting your food scraps can be a great fertilizer for your garden (there’s another idea – a veggie patch or plants to nurture at your centre!), plus you’ll be helping to reduce greenhouse emissions from landfill.
What do you do to keep Australia clean and help young people to understand the importance of a healthy planet? We’d love to get inspired by you too – share with us on social media.