Providing a program which encourages sustainability and caring for the environment is more than just recycling your waste paper. We have compiled a number of ideas for centres to implement to meet NQS 3.3.
National Quality Standard 3.3: The service takes an active role in caring for its environment and contributes to a sustainable future.
Start a gardening program where children can participate in planting, caring for and even harvesting of fruit, vegetables, herbs or flowers.
Designate the role to an ‘Environmental & Sustainabilty Educator’ to incorporate planning and observation documentation to show ongoing progress, growth and participation in the program from season to season.
Involve your parent community with a newsletter or display board about your gardening and sustainability efforts.
You do not need a huge area to have a garden. If you don’t have space for a small garden plot, maintain an existing garden or start a window sill box, a bottle garden or terrarium.
Recycling of food scraps is easy to get the children involved in. Have different coloured bins for different foods types, either compostable or not.
There is no need for a large compost area if you are short on space. A simple compost bin or even a Bokashi system can be used in the smallest of spaces. This waste can then become something useful and be used to fertilise your garden, and educate children on the cycle of recycling.
Worm farms are also a great way to educate children on reusing organic waste to produce something of use. They are also relatively inexpensive and rather easy to maintain taking up a small amount of space. There may even be the opportunity to engage your local community by selling your worm castings to keen gardeners. Imagine enterprise from waste…
Be conscious of the use of chemicals for cleaning dishes, bench tops and floors. Find eco alternatives such as vinegar as a cleaning agent or use bio degradable detergents. See where you can reduce your chemical usage and document it.
Most people are aware of recycling paper and cardboard. Whether it is using both sides of the paper, or reusing for activities such a paper mache or having a local council recycling bin. Encourage students to become involved in recycling of paper based products.
Consider going paperless for your child documentation by using an online system such as oneChild. Over the course of a year you could save reams of paper by not having to photocopy and print written documentation.
Energy – Carbon Footprint
Be aware of energy consumption for your centre. Change lighting over to environmentally friendly LED or fluorescent blulbs. Check power ratings on appliances and purchase the most efficient your budget will allow. Monitor the use of heating and cooling appliances. Turn off the lights in areas that are not in use. These few small changes can save your centre money while satisfying the NQS.
Consider participating in a carbon neutral program such as making donations to a charitable fund like Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund which will plant trees for a donation. You may even have your own tree planting event. Local councils may be able to provide trees and shrubs for free and even a place to plant them. This could be a great vacation care activity and one that could involve other community organisations (think NQS 6.3).
Select some or all of these ideas and embed them in your service operations. If you consistently promote these initiatives in your everyday programming you will be well on your way to meeting relevant NQS.
If you have any other ideas or have things that you do as part of your centres sustainable practice, it would be great if you could leave a comment and share them with us and others.