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Cutting down on school waste

Local teachers and educators concerned about the ongoing climate crisis took part in a workshop about effective waste minimisation at Tairawhiti Environment Centre (TEC) yesterday.

The one day Sustainable School Train the Trainer workshop was organised by TEC in collaboration with Your Sustainable School National (YSSN), a programme funded by the Ministry of Environment.

Its objective is to empower teachers and educators to take the message of waste minimisation back to their establishments and create a waste minimisation programme for better climate action.

From Gisborne Boys' High, Esther Richardson said waste was an important topic local educators usually found difficult to tackle. She is the teacher-in-charge of Agricultural and Horticultural Science at the school.

“A lot of us in this region utilise the free school lunches programme which is a fantastic idea. But we found there has been a huge issue with the waste because a lot of it cannot be recycled if it has got food on it.

“What this also means is that eventually, it ends up going to a landfill.”

Mrs Richardson said the two key points to take away from the workshop were the need to make small changes at the local level and to try to evoke an emotional response within students to bring a change for the better.

YSSN facilitator Mike Turnbull said the topic of waste minimisation was just one part of the “bigger basket” of climate change action.

“We went for it because it's an easy place to start for schools and addresses some of the most immediate problems they often have.

“The generation coming through now will face the impact of climate change. So it's important to create a change in long-term behaviour and empower them; give them a voice and ability to effect change at a very local level,” he said.

TEC hub support coordinator Stephanie Temple said it was good to see the workshops building local connections in the community.

“There is a lot we can't control on a large scale but we can control growing choices and it's good to be able to get together and brainstorm ways of sharing the information.”

MINIMISING WASTE: Participants at a workshop run for educators at Tairāwhiti Environment Centre yesterday enjoyed the chance to discuss ways of cutting down on the waste generated at our schools. Back, from left, Mike Turnbull, Steph Temple, Lisa Christensen (Whangara School), Tui Foster (Waikirikiri School), Jacob Devine (Te Whare Whai Hua), Kauri Forno (Enviroschools), Esther Richardson (Gisborne Boys' High) and Jessica Emery (Horouta Wananga). Front, from left, Ginny Gemmell (Rere School), Linda Te Mara (Te Waiau), Reidun Leete and Elise Levy (The Farmyard), Lionel Vette (Horouta Wananga). Picture by Paul Rickard