Five ways to live sustainably – tips from Victoria’s most sustainable schools

27 February 2020

Victoria’s next generation of sustainability leaders have shared their tips for making small changes for big impact – and you can do the same.

Since 2008, these simple ideas have helped more than 1400 Victorian schools participating in the ResourceSmart Schools Program collectively save more than $28 million and reduce more than 80,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases through energy, water and waste efficiencies.

As Victorian schools prepare their entries for the 2020 ResourceSmart Schools Awards, we look at some of the most innovative and practical ways our 2019 finalists made sustainability part of the everyday in their school.

Try them at home, in your community, or in your workplace and see how much you can save.

Colbinabbin Primary School – 2019 School of the year finalist

Buy smarter with a green purchase policy

Big changes are generating big impact in the tiny Victorian town of Colbinabbin. Colbinabbin Primary School’s ‘green purchase policy’ supports ethical and sustainable purchasing decisions by school leaders and empowers students to make their own smarter choices as consumers. For example, the school returned its water cooler to encourage students to refill bottles from the tap and avoid purchasing bottled water.

A commitment to purchasing ethical, sustainable and locally-produced goods in your home or organisation supports the local economy and reduces ‘food miles’ – that is, the energy required, and greenhouse gases produced in the transport of goods you consume at home or at work.

Seabrook Primary School – 2019 Campus infrastructure and operations school of the year finalist

 Be a champion for our natural environment

Protecting biodiversity is important for our health, food security and the everyday services we depend on. Seabrook Primary School has committed to doing this – and more. They’ve created their own frog bog, worm farm and organic veggie patch. This protects the natural biodiversity of the garden and creates an inviting habitat for native species – not just frogs.

You don’t have to be an avid green thumb to conserve Australia’s unique flora and fauna. By planting hardy indigenous Australian plants in your backyard, you can create a haven for local biodiversity.

Don’t have a backyard? You can also grow indigenous plants in pots or, like many ResourceSmart Schools, volunteer your time to re-vegetate a local park or foreshore.

Brentwood Secondary College – 2019 Teacher of the year secondary school finalist & Student action team secondary school of the year finalist

 Put a measure on waste in your organisation or household

A simple audit in your home or organisation can help you understand how much waste you’re producing and where it’s coming from.

By simply measuring their waste and understanding where it was being generated, Brentwood Secondary College was empowered to introduce a new waste management approach for maximum impact. The school introduced seven waste bins, encouraging students to recycle and reducing what was sent to landfill by 24%.

Beaconhills College – 2019 Campus infrastructure and operations winner

 Build smarter to minimise energy use

Green infrastructure upgrades and environmentally-sensitive design can provide more comfortable and enjoyable living spaces while benefiting the environment and saving you money in the long run.

Sustainable infrastructure became serious business for Beaconhills College after they installed solar systems, sensor lighting, double-glazed windows and collects storm-water for use in toilets.

The upgrades have raised students’ awareness of the impact they can have by making sustainable choices.

Carrum Primary School – 2019 School of the year winner

 Close the loop on food waste

Closing the loop on food waste has long been recognised as an important part sustainability at Carrum Primary School. Students are reconnected to the food cycle by recycling all their organic waste into pet food or compost, which is then fed back into the earth to nourish their veggie garden.

Composting reduces the amount of organic waste sent to landfill which would otherwise contribute to global warming. It is also vital to return these nutrients back to the soil so that future plants can thrive.

Don't have a compost bin? The Sharewaste platform links you with neighbours and businesses who are willing to take your organic waste and do the work for you.