If you're trying to make your school more environmentally friendly, one of the first problems you should tackle is litter. With students bringing everything from drinks to wrapped foods with them to school, litter can mount up quickly without proper management in place. Where the environment is concerned, it's important to keep litter low, even when it's biodegradable. Orange peel, for example, can actually take 2 years to fully decompose. In addition, litter like cans and bottles can injure Australia's vulnerable wildlife. Introducing a school litter pick-up program can drastically reduce your waste output -- here are the 4 steps you should follow to get started.
Step 1: Inform
The first thing you need to do is inform your students that your school has a litter problem. This is usually best done by holding an assembly for the whole school where you outline the issue. If possible, it's a good idea to have some facts or statistics to present to the children. They'll take things more seriously if they know just how much waste they're producing every week, and the effects that has on the environment. Make sure this initial presentation is engaging. You can use videos, PowerPoint, guest speakers, performance art, or any other method that gets your pupils motivated to make a difference.
Step 2: Educate
Don't stop the information at the presentation. Informing students of the problem is the first step, but now you need to educate them further. Teach children more about the environment, waste, and how to reduce litter. As with all teaching, this should be done in a fun and interactive way. Have the children read books, watch videos, create displays, enact role plays, conduct field work, and research online. For example, you could have an older class create anti-littering posters using their newly acquired knowledge to put up around the school. A younger class could role play as animals affected by litter to show them the impact on Australia's fauna.
Step 3: Take Action
When everyone understands the task at hand, it's time to start enforcing action. Get more bins (including recycling bins) placed at key points around the grounds to make it easy for children to throw their litter away. You can also round up a volunteer group of students to pick up the remaining litter each week (remembering to use safety gloves and tools). Feel free to incentivise pupils to keep the grounds clean. You could organise a trip to a wildlife centre or nature reserve for the students who pick up the most litter. Children who drop litter should be reprimanded or punished by teachers patrolling the grounds.
Step 4: Evaluate
In order to be sure your new litter program is working effectively, you'll need to evaluate it regularly. The best way to do this is to get your volunteers to count the litter in each part of the school as they pick it up. Draw a basic map of the school grounds and separate it into multiple "blocks" or areas. Then, assign a member of your team to each area. The student can count the litter in their space as they clean up, then write it down. Collate all the results and write them on the map to see problem areas. It's a good idea to write the type of litter down too, so you can get a better idea of where the waste is coming from.
If you're still struggling to reduce and manage school-wide waste, don't hesitate to get in touch with environmental consultants in your area.