BELAIR Public School started the year with a plan to go waste free on Wednesdays.
Fast forward 11 months and the number of families that have embraced the idea with gusto means the strategy has changed dramatically.
Kindergarten teacher Emily Allars said the school of 540 pupils was now likely to be completely waste free by December.
“We’ve learned a lot in a very small amount of time,” Ms Allars said.
“It started with the kids and it’s grown from there. It’s been about them understanding why we are doing this – we want a sustainable world and we don’t want our oceans to be more plastic than fish.”
Ms Allars said the school joined forces earlier this year with Hunter mother Samantha Cross’ education and recycling program Plastic Police Partnership, which aims to improve recycling of soft plastics.
The school started an environment group comprising teachers, students and parents, which pledged to reduce the waste the school produced.
Children suggested waste free Wednesdays.
Kindergarten moved at the end of term two to a four bucket system – one for mixed recycling; another for paper and cardboard; one for soft plastic recycling; and one for compost – and soon reduced the landfill it produced down to zero.
“It’s such a simple idea but it works so well if you teach them to sort correctly,” Ms Allars said.
The whole school adopted the model this month, when four buckets were installed outside classrooms and in playground areas.
Ms Allars said after recess on the first day of the initiative, years five and six had discarded enough soft plastic to fill two large buckets.
Students also arrived with 20 bags of soft plastics last Wednesday alone, after the school invited families on the Tuesday to send their household items into the school for collection and recycling.
Ms Allars said families had played a vital role in helping the school to reduce its environmental footprint.
“Parents have had to purchase more containers and change their shopping habits – but they’re saying it’s helping them save money and their children are now eating more fruit and vegetable snacks.”
Year four student Madison Abdilla, 10, said she felt she was “making a big difference for everybody’s future”. “If we keep going we’ll have a healthier planet and healthier people.”
Principal Warwick Beard said students were becoming proactive in “ensuring a better future for our world”.