Saturday, May 25, 2024

Sustainable schooling in Geelong

A Drysdale early years facility that implemented a centre-wide program to improve its sustainability is fast moving towards its goal of minimal food waste.

The Geelong City-operated Bella Wiyn Biralee Family Centre offers long-daycare places and integrated kindergarten programs for up to 91 children each day. And while teaching children about the natural environment is part of the centre’s learning program, educators have adopted a more hands-on learning approach.

Staff, children, and their families are now working together to reduce waste, save energy and conserve water at the centre. The partnership is already reaping sustainability rewards, including a big reduction in food waste.

The centre’s commercial kitchen generates approximately 30 kilograms of food waste daily in the preparation of meals and snacks for the 91 children. These food scraps and leftovers are being composted on site using compost bins and worm farms, with any excess food taken home by families and staff for their chickens.

“The program allows children to see sustainable living in action and then take those newly learned behaviours home with them,” said centre educator and sustainability representative, Suzannah McCoy.

“They become part of the solution and can better understand the importance of their actions,” she said.

“We want them to know that every action, no matter how small, can make a difference in nurturing and protecting our environment.”

The centre’s sustainability journey started with an environmental footprint ‘inspiration board’ in the foyer where sustainable ideas were listed. They started completing simple actions like turning off lights to save energy, and conserving water by reusing water used in play activities on garden beds.

With support from families, they introduced reuse and upcycling initiatives such as reusing glass jars for plant containers or pencil holders. Some staff also committed to carpool for the drive to work.

Help is now coming from further afield with staff from Council’s waste department visiting the centre last month to deliver a new compost bin and extend children’s learnings on worm farms and composting.

Staff from the local Bunnings outlet also pitched in to help set up new vegie gardens and plant seedlings with children.

Educators from Bella Wiyn Birralee also participate in a sustainability working group set up for educators from the 11 Council-operated centres where they can share ideas, provide feedback and plan future projects.

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