Walcha students are building their knowledge in waste management and now they have the funds to leave a legacy.
Walcha Central School was awarded $13,500 through the State Government’s Sustainable Schools Grants program, which focuses on new student-led sustainability initiatives.
“The idea is to teach sustainable practices through education, but also to put the infrastructure in place so it can be ongoing for future years,” said Jennifer Grayling, Teacher at Walcha Central School.
“We want to make sure what we do now benefits the school and students long-term.”
Walcha’s Waste Warriors are made of 18 students from Years 3 to 6 who volunteer their time in their break to help improve the environment and the way we live.
“The students at our school were asking the questions, why does all our rubbish always go into the red bin?” said Ms Grayling.
“So as part of the program we decided we would introduce different waste streams into the classrooms.”
“Now we have red bins for general landfill waste, yellow for paper, cardboard and everything that can be recycled. We also have a bin for our food waste which goes into our compost. We also collect the 10c collectable containers.”
The funds from the grant have been used to purchase new waste sorting bins for all classrooms, install an outdoor greenhouse and extra 10 cent collectable bins around the school’s grounds, and more.
“It is also paying for Matt McKenzie from Thalgarrah Environmental Education Centre to give hands on lessons about sorting waste and for our students to recognise how much waste we are producing in one day. 70 per cent of our waste could be directed elsewhere other than the red bin,” said Ms Grayling.
“The money that is made from the containers is returned directly back to the school for the students to use.”
The program is an opportunity for students to learn the importance of sustainable practises and how small changes can have a big impact.
“Matt teaches us about the ways we can dispose of waste and how we dispose of it into different waste streams for the best outcome for the environment.”
“We also learn how to compost and what we should be doing to our compost heap to make sure it is working productively,” said Ms Grayling.
The greenhouse will become an important tool to show students the circle of life.
“With the alpine climate we struggle to get food to grow all year round. The greenhouse will allow us to extend the growing season of our vegetables.”
“We will in turn use the compost to improve the soil to grow these vegetables, ” said Ms Grayling.
While the Waste Warriors are a new concept, established in 2023, Walcha’s gardening team, the Dunghutti Diggers have been carrying the torch the last three years, sowing seedlings, harvesting and delivering produce to the canteen.
Together, Walcha’s sustainable future is in good hands.
“The students are very positive and very excited they can now sort their waste at the point where they go and put it in the bin, and they can see the benefit of doing so.”
What do the kids have to say?
What does sustainability mean to our Walcha Waste Warriors, and how will it help the environment?
We went directly to the source.
Riley, aged 11:
“Sustainability means we don’t waste great materials that could be used again.”
“The new bins in the classrooms are really helping to sort the waste into 10c cans, landfill, compost and recycling so we help the environment.”
Olivia, aged 11:
“It’s making good use of the resources we have available to use and not wasting them.”
“The compost bin is able to help the environment by not having to buy soil out of a plastic bag and more soil will be available”.
Olivia, aged 12:
“Sustainability is when we reuse plastics such as containers and plastic bottles.”
“When we are using things again it will save us money and will stop us using soft plastics that pollute our environment.”
The Walcha Waste Warriors will continue to build initiatives to improve their school and the environment, and with this team, anything is possible.
“It will be very interesting to see where we end up,” said Ms Grayling.
Like what you’re reading? Support the New England Times to keep providing hyper-local news, for the New England and by the New England, pay wall free. Make a small contribution today.