SFSF - Schools For a Sustainable Future
Joseph Natoli, SFSF Project Director, surrounded by happy, enthusiastic children
synergy vol 1 issue 2

Synergy Issue 2, Oct 1999

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Chatham Primary School
Schools & The Environment
Interest in recycling and environment at Chatham Primary


It's nearing the end of the millennium and apart from the fact that there are more humans inhabiting the earth than ever before, Western societies are 'consuming' at a frightening pace, with little or no regard for the real cost to our planet. As a concerned citizen, I wanted to make a difference.

My children attend Chatham Primary School and last year I approached the Principal, Mrs Jan Morris, regarding waste minimisatin at Chatham.

I was delighted to receive an enthusiastic response to my initiative which proposed reducing our waste to landfill by 50% by the end of 1998.

I discovered that our school produced 2,500 cubic metres of rubbish per year, equivalent to an average house block 4 metres deep. This was all going to landfill and costing the school $2,000.

Economics and environment
School Council approved funding for the project.

They agreed that not only was it economically viable, but would also add value to our school and at the same time teach our children sound environmental principles.

The School contracted a professional consultant, Mr Joe Natoli, from Schools for a Sustainable Future, to run a program designed to have the children themselves create and manage a waste minimisation project.

Over a period of eight weeks children in grades 3 and 4:

  • established a wormery
  • organised recycling for paper, glass, plastics, aluminium, milk and fruit juice cartons and organic waste
  • learnt about how their actions affect our environment and that a sustainable future is their responsibility too
  • visited CERES, the community environmental park; created a healthier environment by reducing rubbish going to landfill by 50%
  • incorporated the whole school in their project
  • adopted the motto 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle'
  • increased their confidence and organisational and communication skills through real-life experiences, solving problems in Maths (weighting, decimals, place value, etc) and English (advertising, drama, oral presentations).

The potential impact is enormous, as children are going home and encouraging a family approach to waste minimization.

For the future, Chatham School plans to:

  • introduce a 'greener' cantten with more homemade and healthier food
  • incorporate waste-free lunch days
  • introduce walk-to-school days
  • review its energy consumption
  • have an environmental stall at its twilight fair in February.

Baroondara Council has been very generous in their financial support of this project and Chatham would love to see Council further support schools by collecting their recyclable waste.

I am really proud of what our School has achieved.

I know the students are extremely proud of their efforts and their contribution to greening our School and their environment.

- by Vivien Bortot

Parent at Chatham Primary School



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