8 February 2024

Bins of every colour: what you will see in the ELC

Early Learning
Bins of every colour: what you will see in the ELC
Bins of every colour: what you will see in the ELC
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I have very clear memories from my childhood of the bin we had for household rubbish. It was metal, the lid was often knocked off overnight by a stray cat, and when the garbos came early in the morning it was noisy with the metal bins clanging and garbos hanging off the back of the truck chatting. Everything went into the bin every week. However, there were other forms of waste disposal incinerators in the back yard polluting the neighbourhood. People raked their leaves and burnt them in the street often on a Saturday afternoon when the shops were closed and everyone was doing their gardening. The local tip was an awesome place to dump bigger unwanted items and sometimes collect other bits to take home. There was limited wrapping on store-bought goods and you could go to the local supermarket and refill your honey, oil and other jars.

Fast forward to now, where most councils have allocated three or four different bins to each household, and we are producing so much rubbish as a community. There is also now significantly greater awareness of sustainability, waste management and efforts worldwide to take action at personal, local community and global levels.

Both early childhood frameworks which inform Early Learning Centre curriculum planning – the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) Volume 2 and the Victorian Early Years Learning Framework (VEYLF) – speak to sustainability in early childhood, as summarised here by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACEQA), which oversees these frameworks nationally:

Living sustainably means living within the capacity of the natural environment to support life and ensuring our current lifestyle has minimal impact on generations to come. Sustainable practices relate not only to the natural environment, but also our society and culture, including aspects such as consumerism and community well-being.

As the need for greater sustainability becomes more apparent globally, so does the importance of embedding sustainability in children’s programs. Through hands-on experiences and relevant educator pedagogies, children can explore and learn about their local contexts and environmental issues. They can develop the creativity and critical thinking skills necessary to make informed decisions for change, improving the quality of their lives, and those of future generations. Practicing sustainability empowers children to construct knowledge, explore values and develop an appreciation of the environment and its relationship to their worlds. This lays the foundations for an environmentally responsible adulthood. (ACECQA 2016)

Over a number of years, the ELC has been introducing and embedding procedures and practices to support environmental sustainability, worm farms, water tanks, compost bins and food gardens and our green star reuse balcony. Last year we participated in the Wonder Soft bread bag drive where for two to three months we encouraged the ELC community to collect Wonder Soft and other plastic bread bags which I then sent off to earn points for the weight of the bags. These points allowed us to purchase sports equipment (photo below). This was a positive experience for all and very hands on for the children who brought in the collection of bags from family, friends and neighbours. We were thrilled with the result. Stay tuned as will participate again.

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This year we are embracing the changes in the School around sustainability and the parts that we can contribute to and support. You will notice a range of different coloured bins: yellow for plastic recyclables, red for landfill, blue for paper and cardboard, and small bins with white lids for all food scraps.

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We are all excited about this development across the School and supporting children’s awareness and actions they can take as global citizens of the world.

There is lots of great literature around these days for children, and in the world of waste management, I’m particularly fond of these two books: Michael Recycle meets Litterbug Doug and Michael Recycle and the Tree Top Cops, both by Ellie Bethel.

Wendy Seidler
Director of ELC Kew

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