In 2005 we were given the opportunity to acquire recycling bins for each classroom, through the Whangarei District Council’s kerbside collection initiative. A meeting of interested students took place. We set about a weekly recycling regime of collecting paper and cardboard from each classroom. This was so successful that we started recycling twice a week from classrooms and daily from the photocopy rooms. We also collected our aluminium cans, plastic bottles and food scraps on a regular basis. We set up two worm farms made from recyclable materials and fed the worms from our lunch scraps. Sheryl Mai, our new mayoress, showed us how to build them.
During 2006 the “Enviromonitors” met regularly, documented our meetings and initiatives, and began to discuss the issues of electricity and water wastage. We entered the EnviroSchools programme, submitted our scrapbook of evidence, of education for sustainability, and in Term 4 that year, we were presented with a Bronze award, at a ceremony at the Regional Council Office.
We wanted to continue in our quest to look after God’s creations so the following year, as well as continuing our established initiatives, we investigated a small stream that runs through our school grounds. A team of students set themselves up as the “Clean Green Stream Team” to look at the problem of eels dying in this stream and to come up with some solutions to stop this happening. Their hard work not only encouraged the return of the eels and the planting out of the area into a wetland for all sorts of native creatures, but the team entered the Community problem solving competition and won the National finals in Auckland and the International finals in Michigan, U.S.A. This fabulous project elevated us to “Silver” Enviroschool status in 2008.
Since then we have won various Northland Regional Council awards that have enabled us to build compost bins, a native bird garden, school gardens with a wonderful irrigation system and a ‘Prayer Garden’.
The prayer garden has been planted out with figs, olives, grapes and other plants that would have been around when Jesus was on earth. Full size statues of Jesus and Mary are set into pergolas. This is a great place for Religious Education lessons or a quiet prayer time alone. Each whanau helped with the planting of these trees and will continue to assist with the maintenance of this great asset to St. Francis Xavier Catholic School.
This year we are working with ‘Ecosolutions’ to become a ‘WasteWise’ school. This means changing our behaviours and the way we think about waste even more.
Education for sustainability is an integral part of our life at our school as we live out our role of kaitiaki/guardians of planet Earth.