Sustainable students lead the way

MAKING A DIFFERENCE... Notre Dame College year 12 students Isaac Barry and Abby Rabl, with teacher and sustainability coordinator Kirsten Hines, and students Lucy James, and Brodie Whitehead. Photo: Deanne Jeffers.

SHEPPARTON’S Notre Dame College is a finalist for an ‘Emerging School of the Year Award’ for implementing a new waste program and promoting it within the school’s campuses and wider community.

In 2020, the college embarked on ResourceSmart School’s (RSS) program and made a commitment to more sustainable practices by undertaking the RSS Waste Module, to educate students, staff, and the community about waste, how to reduce landfill as well as the associated costs.

“It’s really important for young people to pass on what we learn and what’s important to us to the next generation,” said year 12 student, Lucy James. “With all the talk of climate change, it’s important that we can make a difference and become more sustainable.”

Student group, Terra Tomodachi, have been active participants, offering their enthusiasm and ideas to make the college more sustainable with the help of teacher and sustainability coordinator, Kirsten Hines. Together, they have implemented a new bin system that separates landfill, from compostable organic waste, and co-mingle recycling. Bins have been removed from classrooms, and there are also specific bins for recycling soft plastics and batteries.

Kirsten said, “Unfortunately, there is no system to take soft plastics from schools, so we go through the RedCycle program in supermarkets.

We work on a system of dropping waste off weekly or as needed, the way households may.”

Students also promoted the changes across the community using a range of communication tools, including video and social media.

“This program is an exciting opportunity to meet like-minded schools and to learn off of each other and see how others are progressing,” said year 12 student, Brodie Whitehead. “It’s great to be able to encourage other schools, schools that maybe don’t know that the program exists. Social media is one way we can encourage them.”

MAKING A DIFFERENCE… Notre Dame College year 12 students Isaac Barry and Abby Rabl, with teacher and sustainability coordinator Kirsten Hines, and students Lucy James, and Brodie Whitehead. Photo: Deanne Jeffers.