Recycling at school: Ashfield Public School

This is the story of how Ashfield Public School students became ambassadors for sustainable waste practices.

In 2014, in response to local concern about waste and littering the school community created a three week recycling challenge. For the challenge recyclable drink containers could be collected and 'cashed in' by students for house points with a prize for the winning team.

Students and their families were encouraged to collect recyclable drink containers from their homes and litter hot spots in the local community such as parks, public playgrounds and recreation areas.

At the end of each week students were given updates on their progress as well as tips about common mistakes like leaving non recyclable straws in poppers.

A total of 1261 recyclable drink containers were collected. The winning team, Riley House, collected 454 containers and was awarded a lunchtime disco.

Ashfield Public School teacher Elizabeth Lechlein recalls the enthusiasm the challenge brought to the school community and how the recycling message has become part of the student body's ethos.

“We had some kids begging their parents to take them to different known hot spots like car parks and the Cooks River to find recyclable bottles that could be cashed in,” said Elizabeth.

The school community is now focusing on organics in the playground. A three-bin system for recycling, organics and waste has been introduced through support from a number of grants. The organic waste is being managed on-site through new compost and worm farm systems and is keeping the school gardens healthy.

“The kids love pulling out the waste from the compost bin and getting a glimpse of the maggots!” said Elizabeth.

The benefits?

For the students?

  • Students learnt to 'look for the triangle' – the universal recycling symbol – which has helped them make everyday decisions about recycling waste that even their parents get wrong (like disposable coffee cups).

For the teachers?

  • A hands-on, practical learning activity that incorporated the entire student body.
  • Incentives were given to students to clean up the school grounds and beyond.
  • A whole-family approach to a fun, learning experience was encouraged.

For the local environment?

  • Local litter hot spot areas became cleaner.

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Page last updated: 10 December 2015