From little things big things growDoug Conway
The Trinity Environmental and Sustainability Committee has plenty of initiatives well underway and many more waiting in the wings.
After forming in 2020 the committee spent a significant amount of time analysing the School’s waste and recycling processes, resource management and sustainable packaging efforts, using the findings to set some big goals and map out how they can be reached.
- Landfill diversion of 50%
- Increase energy efficiency by 5%
- Increase water efficiency by 5%
- Increase the amount of sustainable packaging to 90%
- Landfill diversion target of 100%
- Increase active/sustainable travel for staff and students by 20%
- 50% reduction in printing
Did you know?
In 2021, this is how Trinity was tracking:
- 40.6% LED lighting – FSC 90% – Junior 5% – Prep 30% – MS/SS 32.4%
- 5% Sensor lighting currently installed at TGS
- 5kWh Solar – renewable power is harnessed onsite
- 29,168kL water usage – Q1 2020 to Q1 2021
- +22% improvement in water consumption – Q1 utility invoice comparison 2020-2021
- 12% landfill diversion – Partnership Company 83% Resource Recovery
- 7% printing reduction – FollowMe Printing – The school currently has reduced its printing by 7%
The team is now working towards these goals. Some of the initiatives in action include:
Many schools and private and public libraries are practised in the art of ‘weeding’. Weeding is when books and other resources are intentionally removed from the collection and disposed of. At Trinity Grammar School, our librarians and teachers regularly weed the collection to make sure everything is up to date, in good condition and relevant for our students. This means that there are sometimes piles of books that need to be recycled appropriately.
The question is, of course, what happens to all those books that need to be removed from the collection?
When the Trinity collection was recently weeded, there were 10 pallets of books that needed to be disposed of – no small task! The librarians in our own Arthur Holt Library advised of an organisation that could be of use in this situation – James Bennett.
At James Bennett, they have begun The Sustainability Project (TSP), a green initiative that helps libraries to dispose of any unwanted weeded library materials. They estimate that, if libraries are weeding at the recommended rate, 4.5 million books or 1,800 tonnes will go straight to landfill each year unless organisations like James Bennett don’t step in to make sure these books are disposed of correctly and responsibly.
Recycling doesn’t always mean breaking the books down. James Bennett disposes of weeded books through donations to communities in need, recycling into new products by pulping (with the laminate removed), as well as selling items to generate additional funds for libraries or donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
Through The Sustainability Project James Bennett has saved an estimated 225,000 books from landfill, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation has received $4,100 to support their program and a total of $15,600 has been donated or shared back to libraries to purchase additional materials for their libraries.
Everything in its place
Anyone visiting Trinity may have noticed some new faces around the Summer Hill campus this year – and we’re not just talking about new students!
As students came back to school in Term 1, there were three monsters guarding our landfill, recycling, and organics bins in the Cafeteria and Assembly Hall. These monsters have a very important role here at Trinity, helping staff and students alike to remember which bin is best for their packaging and food waste. Word is, if we all do our bit by putting our rubbish in the right bin, the monsters will behave themselves.
Our staff have an extra reminder in the Common Room, with the Room Recyclers and Sustainability Station helping everyone to pause before disposing of their waste thoughtfully.
Why is it so important to dispose of our rubbish correctly?
Rubbish breaks down at different rates – your banana peel might only take a month or two to decompose, while an aluminium drink container could take over 200 years. Whatever your waste might be, the longer it sits there waiting to break down, the more harmful greenhouse gases are being released into the atmosphere. When we separate our waste appropriately, it can be managed better at waste facilities, recycled if possible and sent to the right places to break down. When we don’t, we end up with piles and piles of landfill, which should be our last resort.
It might seem like a small change, but our signs and monsters are doing their job and we’re already seeing a reduction in the amount of landfill waste we produce each week.
Changes in the Cafeteria
Lunches and snacks are often a huge culprit of unnecessary packaging – or packaging that gets disposed of incorrectly. Now, the Cafeteria is making it even easier for everyone to dispose of their waste responsibly.
Biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable containers and cutlery are now in use. Sourced from Biopack, these new products are helping Trinity to meet landfill reduction targets.
“Students know that when they buy anything from the cafeteria, it can be put into the organic waste receptacle, regardless of whether there’s food waste on it or not,” said Mr Stephen Heanly, who heads up the committee.
“We really thought about this when working towards this change. If the students must stand at the bin and decide where they’re going to put their waste, they’ll almost always just put it all in the general waste bin. We want to make the decision, and direction, clear and simple so it’s easier for them to play their part.”
For the next phase of action, the committee is focusing on encouraging everyone, across the School, to be mindful in their use of resources, conserving water, energy, paper, and more, wherever possible.
You might have already seen some of these signs popping up across the School. They’re the reminders we all need to make sure we turn lights off, report dripping taps, and work together to meet resource reduction goals.
The team has plenty more in store as they work towards the big goals and meeting them is only possible when we all work together as a School community. Be inspired by the effort already put into these initiatives, and keep going!