Plastic-free July has been a challenge which was embraced right across the school, but in our Kitchen Garden it’s not just for July, August, or September – this is an everyday practice all year long. Their mantra is “sustainability” and their catch-cry is
reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose.
Every year through this program, our Year 4 and Year 5 students learn how to decrease their environmental footprint. In this post Terri Sharpe (our Garden Teacher) explains the myriad of ways they do this in the Kitchen Garden Program. [Editor’s note]
All year 4 and 5 students are involved in our Kitchen Garden Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose Program where we are:
• Reusing donated 3L plastic bottles for worm wee collection
• Repurposing donated plastic milk bottles into new labels for our potted plants and seedlings (they are also waterproof which is a big bonus)
• Making seedling pots from used half lemons from the kitchen
• Making seed pots from toilet paper rolls
• Reusing the blue plastic twine on our hay bales for tying up our plants
• Repurposing donated 1L and 2L clear plastic bottles as mini greenhouses on our grafted avocados
• Reusing donated seedling punnets of all sizes for our own seedling propagation
• The garden is almost completely plastic free – all small pieces of plastic are removed from site
• We removed several large plastic posts and replaced them with ceramic cracked pots donated by Lazarus Horticulture and Uscape Garden Centre (that would otherwise have ended up in landfill), the kids glued them back together
• We have several ornaments from Uscape Garden Centre that were destined for landfill but the kids glued them back together and now they watch over the garden (they are fairies)
• We have a large donated mosaic bath that is now our fishpond
• Students designed the outer bath wire surround made of old pool noodles and reticulation piping that stops sharp edges from scratching the kids
• Reusing large plastic dog food bags for our anti-cabbage moth sticks used throughout the garden
• Repurposing donated small plastic fruit containers commonly used at Coles and Woolworths into mini greenhouses
• We also replaced all plastic large pots with ceramic pots for a longer life
• We also removed all tyres from the garden (as the rubber and chemicals can leach into the plants we grow)
• Donated glass jars have their labels removed and are used for a multitude of purposes
• Cardboard boxes go into our worm farms for a protection layer
• Of course there is also the food scrap collection from Mr McLeod’s year 4s every week to feed our worms
• Kitchen waste to our compost pile and chickens
• Our water tank collects rain water from nearby classroom roofs and we use that for summer watering
• Green waste generated from the garden goes back into the garden – being turned back into soil via our compost piles
• We collect empty plant pots of all sizes from Home Hardware that would otherwise go to landfill
• We also annually receive a large donation of past use-by-date packet seeds from Fothergill’s that would otherwise end up in landfill
Many of the above involve the community and their generous donations to the school, hence why we literally now have hundreds of many of those items – all being reused, repurposed and recycled into useful items that we otherwise would have had to buy (or may have gone to landfill).
We don’t just ask the kids to collect these items – we explain what the purpose of the collection is and how it can benefit our local community (eg the school), the wider community (eg Margaret River town) and the larger community (eg the world, or our country). We also actively involve the kids in the decisions regarding what we should be recycling, and how we can continually be recycling in the KG Program, but also at home. This encourages ownership of the recycling process, and hopefully transfers recycling principles to the home.
Good for the kids, good for the community and good for our environment!
We interviewed three of the Year 4 students from T14 and this is what they had to say.
“We can use recyclables to do jobs for us and then we don’t have to buy new things.” Mia B.
“When we recycle it saves money. It’s all about the money now days.” Jack O’B.
“Look at the bath. It’s recycled – now it’s our fishpond.” Koa H.
“What an inspiring list of ways to push back against waste and protect the clean, green environment we enjoy in Margaret River. We can learn a lot from you, students!” Mrs Veary
Written and photos by Terri Sharpe, Posted by D. Veary