Return to home page

Zero Waste Education in schools

Recently, we were lucky enough to sit in on some lessons at Stanley Avenue School with the educators from Zero Waste Education (ZWE). Vicki Semmens and Kim Edwards are part of the team that go into schools each year to provide interactive lessons for tamariki about sustainability and waste minimisation. Each year level has a different module with workbooks and homework sheets, so the kids are never doing the same activity twice. Children in a classroom

In Room 13 (Years 4-6) children were quizzed and told us where all kinds of different materials came from. For example, steel comes from ironsand, which is found on the North Island of New Zealand and dates back about two and a half million years. Whereas aluminium comes from bauxite, which is mined in Australia and dates back 12-20 million years.

Kim 1 sml

Vicki then explained the difference between a linear economy and a circular economy, and looked at alternatives to throwing things into the rubbish bin. They discussed the example of a mobile phone, which is made up of 75 different natural resources, including gold. The class discussed reselling, recaring (looking after the item), regiving, reusing (in a different way), and recycling (which should be the last option).

Kim 2 sml

"It's about providing people with choices and encouraging their critical thinking," Kim explained. These classes are only a small taste of the education needed around waste minimisation, but it helps to normalise the language and different processes. Children are encouraged to go home and share their learnings with parents and caregivers.Vicki 5 sml

In Room 6 (Years 2-4) we saw the students reaching up high to be big rubbish piles, and then flattening themselves down to minimise the space the waste took up, imitating how rubbish is compacted in landfill. This energiser got everyone excited and got their brains working for the next exercise out of the workbook. They looked at what to do with leftovers, and the children came up with lots of great ideas including eating, storing, baking, freezing, and composting.

Vicki 4 sml

The Year 0-2 students in Room 11 were still a bit young for some of the high-level concepts, so the focus there was more around having fun. The lessons aim to get the kids excited about the program, and to start teaching them the vernacular. Kim showed them a clump of worms and explained how valuable they are to the composting process. They then played some games with reused objects, like ten-pin bowling made out of old tins and rolled-up socks. Vicki 1 sml

This program encourages kids to actively participate in their home and school recycling system, as well as understanding the wider context and impact that waste can have on our planet. This contributes to more effective recycling and less waste within our district, which also means less cost to the ratepayers.

 Vicki 2 sml

We have been supporting the ZWE school program in our district for the past 13 years, and there are currently 26 schools active in our district. It is available to all intermediate and primary schools, so if your school wants to be a part of it then This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today!