More than 280 Auckland schools are on an Enviroschools sustainability journey to explore and act for our environment.
These early childhood centres and schools connect with the environment, then plan, design and take local action in collaboration with their communities.
Enviroschools Regional Coordinator Marisa Pene says, “Enviroschools is a long-term holistic sustainability kaupapa that fosters our reconnection through place with Taiao, and with each other. It takes the view ‘He Oranga Taiao, He Oranga Tangata’ – in fostering the wellbeing of our environment, our own wellbeing flourishes.
The Enviroschools kaupapa is about creating a healthy, peaceful, sustainable world through learning and taking action together.”
For example, Konini School, has achieved Green Gold, the highest certification as an Enviroschool. Composting paper towels, restoring the school ngahere (forest), raising chickens, growing kumara to make soup to celebrate Matariki, and sharing knowledge of their school pou and pepeha are all key parts of their learning curriculum.
Major gains for zero waste to landfill
Through the Waste Minimisation Innovation Fund, Auckland Council has helped 66 schools with grants to help them get composting. The worm bins are especially grateful for the leftover veggies and banana peels in school lunches.
More than 20 East Auckland schools kept 47,159 kg of waste out of landfills last year by engaging students, staff, and community members to implement zero waste solutions.
This year, they want to improve by an additional 40 per cent.
Hibiscus and Bays Local Board supports a Zero Waste Early Childhood Education programme that’s helping centres switch to cloth nappies, integrate more upcycled or natural materials for play, garden, and compost their food scraps. Many of the participating centres in this Local Board programme have reduced their waste by almost 50 per cent.
Reach beyond the schoolyard
The Enviroschools programme encourages the school communities to think about the environment outside of the school campus, too. They’ve created some clever challenges to improve biodiversity across Auckland.
Moth plant, Araujia hortorum is a weed that New Zealanders want to be rid of. The Howick Local Board runs an annual challenge to school to see how many seed pods they can collect.
Last year, 151 students collected 8355 pods and uprooted 15 vines that had the potential to grow a staggering 8 million more plants.
This generation of change-makers is teaching all of us what a difference we can make when we work together for our environment.