Kids take lead on waste reduction

By: Kate Hall

A few years ago, I visited my niece’s preschool in Red Beach to talk about waste. Armed with a few pieces of rubbish, plus a jar filled with compost and wriggly worms, I entered their space wondering if anything I was about to say would get through to minds filled with playdough designs and blanket forts.

Turns out, when it comes to waste, 3-4 year olds are onto it. They understand concepts like circularity and sustainability far better than any adults I’ve spoken to (and as a sustainability educator, I’ve talked to a lot!). They were stoked to hear that the worms in the jar breaking down organic matter weren’t only more exciting to look at than the rubbish, but far better for our planet, too. Weeks later, these budding eco warriors were telling off their teachers and parents for recycling incorrectly or putting too much waste in their lunchboxes!

To children, reducing waste makes a lot of sense. For adults, it’s much harder to break habits and change established mindsets. We have a lot to learn from the young ones.
That’s why I am excited to work as a Zero Waste Kindergarten facilitator this year. Under the governance of Hibiscus Coast Zero Waste, I will visit local preschools to carry out a waste audit and help them reduce their waste. I’ve already been blown away by the gardens and worm farms at places like Plum Tree Preschool (which is solar powered, too!) and Montessori Beginnings Preschool.

I cannot wait to continue turning Hibiscus Coast preschools into zero waste oases. Each will be assisted with whatever they want to do – this may include setting up compost bins, planting gardens, encouraging litterless lunches and adopting reusable nappy systems. The children will have the opportunity to visit the Whangaparaoa Recycling Centre in Stanmore Bay, and education will be provided to the parents to implement at home, too.
Living with less waste may sound difficult, but seeing busy preschools take it on shows us what is possible. The Hibiscus Coast is one of the most beautiful places on the planet; I don’t know about you, but I’m going to do my best to reduce my waste to look after it.

If your child attends a preschool that is part of this project, please support them. If your preschool hasn’t yet been visited, please contact me (email at top of this column).
Hibiscus Matters welcomes Kate Hall – the latest to join our merry band of Environment columnists. The Red Beach resident is an educator, sustainability consultant and blogger who aims “to inspire everyone to live with respect for people and the planet”.

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