Melbourne school goes zero waste and removes all rubbish bins

Melbourne school goes zero waste and removes all rubbish bins .jpg

Melbourne Girls’ College has ushered in a new zero waste policy this week, removing all of the school’s rubbish bins and asking students to take home their own rubbish.

The school hopes the move will encourage parents to cut back on the amount of plastic packaging in school lunches and help reduce waste.

Says principal Karen Money: "We talk a lot, as educators, about the wicked problems the world faces, and if we don’t start putting some actions behind that rhetoric, then it’s just empty."

“Similar to entering a national park in Australia, the waste you take in, you are responsible for taking out,” says Money.

While numerous primary schools across Australia have implemented similar policies, Money believes MGC is the first high school in the country to make the change.

In a newsletter sent home to parents prior to the bin ban, Ms Money said: “The plan is being adopted with the ambition of becoming a zero waste to landfill school by the end of 2020, massively reducing our environmental impact.

“We hope that this will encourage everyone – students and staff alike – to reduce their waste by bringing less waste to school and, in doing so, create less waste at home.”

According to the school’s sustainability co-ordinator Andrew Vance, who teaches year 9 marine biology, the school has been in consultations with parents and students over the zero waste policy for over six months.

“We’ve just finished doing Plastic Free July… if you couldn’t avoid the plastic you had to carry it around in your dilemma bag and all of these students and I were carrying around these bags of plastic we couldn’t avoid,” Vance says. “How do you get toothpaste in a waste-free world? It teaches people to think innovatively.”

“If you expose students to these problems [the plastic pollution crisis], if you then don’t give them an opportunity to try and be involved in the solution, that’s when it leads to depression and anxiety and ecological grief," says Vance.

MGC will phase out all of their rubbish bins over the next five weeks, including the school’s recycling bins - due to the collapse of SKM Recycling the school’s plastic and glass recycling is now sent to landfill.