Merri-bek Primary School in Coburg is a multicultural public school that is embracing sustainability action throughout its curriculum and in its grounds. The students are directly involved in initiatives, spearheaded by the school’s student run sustainability team.
Ever since Merri-bek Primary School (MPS) has been involved in the ResourceSmart AuSSI Vic Schools program, the school has been taking steps to make their operations more energy and water efficient and minimise waste. The school has addressed litter and recycling and installed water tanks and solar panels. In almost two years of operation the solar panels have generated over 75,221kWh of energy – that’s 39.86 tons of CO2 avoided from our atmosphere!
Student ideas and inspiration
One of the most exciting developments has been the formation of the student-run Merri-bek Primary School Sustainability Team and the abundance of ideas and motivation the students have for protecting our environment. The MPS sustainability team is run by six grade five and six students who engage fellow pupils, the staff body and the wider school community in discussing and taking action on sustainability initiatives.
The team have successfully implemented a recycling program for soft plastics and cardboard/paper. Recently a new composting program has been introduced where food scraps from recess and lunch and the staff room are collected, composted and turned into a rich input for the garden beds at school. The parent-run vegie patch is a productive space enjoyed by the school community.
Bringing sustainability home
An exciting achievement this year has been the implementation of MPS sustainability team’s very own website! The site was launched during the first period of COVID-19 restrictions this year when students were adapting to learning online from their homes. The focus is on simple sustainability practice ideas that families can do at home together.
The website is now updated and run entirely by the students. It features examples of sustainability activities, updates on green school initiatives, a birdwatchers page, reviews of climate action related apps and games and showcases recent climate campaign engagement, such as student support for the School Strike for Climate ‘No Gas’ day of action.
Teacher and sustainability coordinator Emily Mah says that the sustainability team have received plenty of positive and encouraging feedback from the school community about the website and the recycling strategies in general.
In the works – an outdoor classroom
The sustainability team are currently driving a new project, the renovation of the school courtyard into an outdoor classroom. The intention is for students to experience connecting to nature and learning outdoors. The sustainability team will be asking the school community for donations of soil and seedlings to start a new herb garden in the courtyard and Merri-bek Council will be donating trees to plant around the school.
Emily reflects that it’s the small steps that have led to larger projects, ideas and support,
“Start small. Even the simplest of sustainable ideas can change the way people view their environmental impact. It doesn’t need to be a project that takes time and money. Every step makes a difference.”
If you would like to find out more about how your school can get started on sustainability, check out our Community Action page for plenty of helpful resources.