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13 November, 2019 Community

Sustainability at St Michael’s: students lead the conversation

Over the past two years, St Michael’s has been reviewing some of our approaches and practices to demonstrate our commitment to environmental, economic and social sustainability.

Staff and students have worked in partnership on several initiatives relating to environmental sustainability, and in so doing, have had a positive impact on the environment, the School’s cost base and the social cohesion that is core to the School’s strong sense of community. Mrs Terrie Jones, Head of the School

An extensive energy and printer audit conducted in 2018 led to School-wide changes, including our 100% LED replacement project, the move to managing printing centrally on a School-wide server to reduce wastage, targets to reduce printed materials, the use of pool covers, the installation of solar heating and rainwater tanks, the introduction of eco-friendly cleaning products, and a focus on reducing waste across the School.

Parallel to these projects, students from the Years 2-6 Environmental Action Group and Years 7-12 Environmental Defenders Group have led a series of initiatives this year to increase sustainable practices at St Michael’s.

  • Sustainability at St Michael’s: students lead the conversation
    Students met with St Michael's staff members and Mermaid Cleaning Service staff
  • Sustainability at St Michael’s: students lead the conversation
    Conducting the waste audit

“We have been working closely with teacher, Mrs Blaher-Lucas, St Michael’s Director of Business, Mr Mufuka and St Michael’s Property Co-ordinator, Ms Damiris, towards improving the sustainability of St Michael’s through more effective waste management strategies,” said Year 11 student and member of the Years 7-12 Environmental Defenders Group, Anna “This has involved liaising with Premier Waste, who currently remove our rubbish and Mermaid Cleaning Services who conducted a waste audit to establish our rubbish output and profile.”

The waste audit involved physically sorting all the general waste produced on campus and recording each type of material and its weight.

The audit found that of the waste generated by St Michael’s students and staff:

39.7% is compostable
10.9% is a combination of paper and cardboard
32.6% is not recyclable
9.7%    is bottles, cans and containers
7.1%    other

There are lots of things we can do to make our School more environmentally friendly both individually and communally.Year 9 student and Years 7-12 Environmental Defenders Group member, Mairead

At Astor Assembly, Anna and Mairead shared the findings of the waste audit and promoted two initiatives; the removal plastic cutlery from Dolly’s Café and the realisation of a year-long investigation into appropriate ways to recycle waste at the School through new paper bins and a focus on composting.

Cutlery initiative

Year 11 student Isabelle, proposed the creative idea to reduce waste at the School by removing plastic cutlery from the Café.

“The goal is to completely cease the use of single-use plastic cutlery at St Michael’s by establishing a communal reusable cutlery station in the cafeteria,” said Mairead. “Each evening the team from Avoca Catering will wash the cutlery ready for the next day.”

To fill the cutlery station the students are requesting donations of stainless steel cutlery from the School community to reach their goal of 1000 spoons and 1000 forks.

Donations of cutlery can be left with Mrs Heather Graham at Coleman Reception.

Composting at St Michael’s

To address the issue of compostable waste at St Michael’s the students led a campaign to raise funds for a composting solution for the School.

The students held an Environmental Action Day which included a casual clothes day with a touch of green, a bake sale, second-hand book and clothing sale and sold baked potatoes during junior and senior lunch. They also sold reusable coffee cups.

The Environmental Action Day raised a wonderful $1123.45 to contribute to a composting solution for St Michael’s.

“Many staff members and students have joined forces to promote these initiatives and educate the community on what will be required to sustain them and ensure they have a long-term impact,” said Mrs Jones.

This is just the beginning of our journey towards being an even more sustainable organisation and we look forward to sharing further news and updates in 2020.