Schools Raise Green Kids

Setting Australia up for a sustainable future and educating the environmentalists and those who will make the green breakthroughs to come is starting at school level.

The Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) is a holistic approach to education for sustainability with measurable environmental, financial, educational and social outcomes.

The students learn by doing and the program involves the whole school community to reiterate the initiative.

Pilot programs were run in Victoria and NSW as pilots and it is now being introduced into schools across the nation and has been taken up by more than 2000 schools and 570,000 students.

The program links schools to other programs they may already have been participating in, such as Energy Smart Schools, WasteWise, Waterwatch, Waterwise, Landcare and the Reef Guardian Schools Program.

As well as giving students an early introduction to sustainable practices, schools have also reaped the benefits with up to 80 per cent reductions in waste, 60 per cent reduction in water consumption and savings on energy consumption of 20 per cent with associated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Schools are saving money and students have more pride in their schools and have a greater interest in learning.


Less Food, Less Waste and Waist and More Sustainable

The amount of food that is wasted in the hospitality industry is alarming. Food wastage also goes against plenty of principles of sustainability, so a restaurant in Dubai is charging diners for their food by weight. They’re encouraging other countries to adopt their model.

Owners of the restaurant, Gramo, want to raise awareness of sustainability issues and promote eating in moderation in the UAE.

This is not a new concept, with the Halfsies project, and others like it, getting foodies to think about how much they are eating and take into account how much food they are wasting.

At Gramo, created by Lootah Hotel Management, patrons choose from either a la carte service or the pay-by-weight buffet. This sets it apart from all other ‘all you can eat’ restaurants as diners have to be more selective about what they choose and how much they select so they don’t pay for food they don’t eat. Therefore, they waste less and possibly eat less. This idea is being encouraged in other countries as the issue of food waste and obesity increases.

Lootah CEO Nasser Saeed Lootah said they wanted Gramo to offer a real taste of Arabic cuisine, but be mindful of the waste the hospitality can create, and manage it in a sustainable manner.


Raising Green Kids

When it comes to green living and looking after the environment, you can teach an old dog new tricks, but it pays to start young.

Children don’t know what they haven’t experienced and research is showing they’re experiencing more indoor play, than bonding with the outdoors and having imaginative play in the natural environment.

In an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, George Monbiot promotes the idea that children must experience nature to understand why it deserves caring for.

Mr Monbiot said children who are brought up in a more indoor world will not fight to keep natural beauty pristine and may not work to slow the effects of climate change and other issues that environmental damage is causing.

“Without a feel for the texture and function of the natural world, without an intensity of engagement almost impossible in the absence of early experience, people will not devote their lives to its protection,” he wrote.

These children may also not understand the importance of living sustainably and building in an environmentally-friendly way.

Sir David Attenborough has also bemoaned the fact that many children lose interest in the natural world as they grow up.

“If you lose your interest in the natural world you’ve lost a very precious possession and something which could give you great pleasure for the rest of your life,” he told The Telegraph in the UK.

These commentators are supported by research that shows we need to teach the importance of the environment by parents and carers immersing children in the natural environment and raise the next generation of environmental caretakers.

These children may then be the next sustainability masterminds, devising new ways of building and living well into the future.

Sustainability Starts Young

The sustainable living message is spreading from a young age in Australia, with schools embracing ecologically friendly principles inside and outside the classroom.

Schools are encouraging students to embrace environmentally-friendly initiatives including vegetable gardens.

The Australian Government has a set of guidelines for environmental education and the states have their individual initiatives.

The NSW Government’s Food Gardens in Schools Program provides opportunities for students, teachers and the wider school community to learn about healthy, sustainable living through growing and harvesting food in school gardens.

The gardens grow edible crops including fruit and vegetables and allows students to design, plant, harvest and care for the crops.

The NSW Eco Schools program encourages schools to develop environmental education programs and funds school environmental management projects.

Queensland schools have embraced the Living Smart schools competition on the Sunshine Coast  with the chance to win $1000 towards a sustainability project by getting the highest percentage of students to register with Sunshine Coast Council’s online sustainable living educational tool, Living Smart Homes.

The council hopes to get at least 10,000 households to sign up for the Living Smart program by 2020.

Sustainablity has been taught in the state’s schools for more than 30 years.

Sustainability Victoria is helping Victorian schools teach their students about living and learning within the environment in an ecologically-friendly way.

ResourceSmart Schools helps the state’s schools minimise waste, save energy and water, promote biodiversity, and cut greenhouse gas emissions and builds sustainability into the fabric of everyday school and community life

Students take this knowledge and behaviour into their adult lives and the community at large, putting the environment at the forefront of people’s lives from primary school onwards.