St Thomas Primary School in Drysdale is doing everything right when it comes to sustainability. They have compost bays; a frog bog; retractable blinds and 'ride and walk to school' days.
Stacey Wallace is the Sustainability Coordinator at St Thomas Primary School.
“Pretty much everyone here is on board and we see sustainability everywhere,” she says. “From the Prep Orientation Night – where the teachers talk about the year ahead and nude food is encouraged for lunch boxes – to the Snack Shack gardens outside each shared unit area.”
“We have a whole school policy on reducing rubbish and recycling, which extends to school events such as sports days and school concerts. There is a general feeling of pride in the school’s efforts and the lovely rubbish free school grounds.”
St Thomas’ school grounds are beautiful. They have native birds, chooks wandering around and sheep who enjoy eating leftover apples.
Working hard to minimise rubbish on school grounds, recycling is mandatory across the whole school and they have reduced the waste going to landfill, water and electricity usage, and saved over $100,000 on their bills.
The school extends the whole school approach towards sustainability to their curriculum. “We plan a whole school Inquiry unit each year with an environmental/sustainability focus. It’s in line with Faith/Life and the message about caring for the earth and our environment,” Stacey says.
The school community also contributes to its sustainability focus. They have parent helpers in their gardens. The school’s newsletters include sustainability updates. Through discussions with parents and encouraging students to be sustainable outside school, the school’s sustainability efforts are extended into homes.
Stacey strongly encourages other schools to take action toward sustainability and get involved in the ResourceSmart Schools program. “It’s important for students to know their actions affect the environment now and into the future. For success, students need to love the environment first, so to be successful it’s advisable to get some gardens happening, get some chickens and use the eggs to bake. And it’s great to see costs reduce as waste gets reduced by doing simple things like turning off lights.”
St Thomas Primary School’s three sustainability tips for schools
- A passionate person willing to drive the program.
- Support from the principal.
- A group of like-minded teachers willing to help set up the program and who will be a support when the program is in its fledgling stages (then getting a group of student leaders on board).