Friday, December 4, 2009

Eco Huts at Makarora

Makarora have been investigating eco-building. I last went to visit them mid term 3 and had a real good session looking at different building designs and construction methods.

This term it was time to start building a few models how their designs and then put them to test with a few experiments to see how strong they are.

We managed to isolate three different designs, a simple box type shape, a curved roof - a little like an aircraft hangar and a good old fashioned pyramid come tepee shape. We had an absolute ball making these models and the students soon started to realise the problems that you can face when trying to join diffferent materials together and make them strong.

they have been doing lots of inquiry into weaving and one of the rooves was weaved from some harakeke leaves from the edge of the field. Even though this roof wasn't on the strongest of structures we soon realised that this is a fantastic option for creating a strong roof and wall.

Worm Farming with QPS Middles

The middles syndicate of Queenstown Primary have been doing some amazing work with worms this year. I've visited all of the classes and we have learnt so much. So much in fact, that when I visited them a couple of weeks ago I was blown away with the knowledge these young people have about taking care of their organic waste.

They have been collecting their food scraps for a while and sending them to some chickens who live with a few of the teachers. However, it's always good to have a solution on site and as it turns out, the food the worms don't like, the chickens love, and vice versa.

We've all made the now famous, worm farm in a milk bottle, but a few classes have taken this a few steps further. Using the amazing design planner from the Enviroschools kit and their knowledge they have set about designing their own worm farms.

A few models have been made and to ensure that they are on track with their designs they had an amazing peer review session. The students presented their designs to other students and used the feedback form that to alter their designs where necessary.

Well done QPS! You've been doing amazing work, once again! I can't wait to see the finished items.

Friday, October 2, 2009

350 comes to Treble cone

By now, I really hope that if you're reading this you know what 350 is about.....if not please read my previous post. I'm also pretty certain that if you've ever spoken to me about it you'll have heard me talk about how cool it would be if we could do something connected with one of my passions.....snowboarding. As the effects of climate change start to happen there is a possibility of our snow conditions here in Wanaka changing. Not something I welcome at all. So we need to do something about it.

Some people have credited me with the idea but I'm sure I stole it off someone else, I can't remember who, but someone. If that someone is you, thank! So, lets get to the idea.....Could we make a human 350 stencil on Wanaka's favourite ski field, Treble Cone? Of course we could. What I love about living in Wanaka is our communities ability to get things we want.

After some discussion about this event, Sophie from Sustainable Wanaka and Ivy from Wanaka Wastebusters set about making it happen. Discussions were held with Treble Cone. Experiments were performed and soon enough a plan was being hatched.

My part in this was fairly small. I had the job, along with one of the best volunteers ever - Mike Illingworth, of drawing the outline of 350 in the snow. The spot had been picked and all we had to do was make it happen. Easy! Actually......maybe not.

We started our efforts on Tuesday morning. We were kindly lent two sprayers by Treble Cone and given a few of their special blue dye tablets. As a reserve we were armed with some food colouring, that has to be the same as the blue tablets. It's really, really, really hard drawing something massive when you're in the middle of it.

After lots of conversation and pacing around the area we'd chosen Mike started spraying out the letters using me as a movable target of where to draw the lines to. The 3 was in blue and the 50 in green food colouring. Ok, so out first attempt was scaled a little strangely, but it would do. Time to ride.

After we got back from the saddle and headed up the six to check it out imagine our horror to see that after only two hours all the food colouring had vanished and we were left with a giant 3! So much for the early finish. It didn't take too long to redraw and to be honest it looked a lot better the second time round. Phew! Fingers crossed it would last until the morning when we could outline it again.

To get the photo a blue sky was desirable, but we certainly needed no cloud hanging around the face. One of our local photographers, Garrick Cameron, had very kindly offered to use his super lens from Diamond Lake to take the long shot for us. As we made our way up the hill on Tuesday it was becoming rather obvious that today may not be the best day to do this. Ivy spent most of the morning phoning people giving updates and telling everyone she could find about what was going to happen, either today or tomorrow.

The dye had faded a little so once again we got to respray.....changing the shapes a little to ensure version 3 looked even better than 1 and 2. Around 10:30 we finally realised it wasn't going to happen. Fingers crossed for Thursday.

Wooo hooo, 7am on Thursday morning looked like a cracker. A couple of clouds in the sky but not many. Mike and I were warned that it was rather icy up on the hill at 8am but we thought we'd be ok. Hmmmmm, the first few turns down Triple Treat, or should I say Iced Triple Treat, demonstrated what we faced. When we got down to the site there was a faint outline from Wednesday mornings spraying, but not much. More worryingly was the fact that the slope was frozen solid. Have you ever tried walking on a fairly steep slope with 15kgs of liquid in a sprayer on your back? Don't bother if you haven't, it's not that flash. We sat there for a while looking at the glorious blue skies chewing the fat. What we hadn't seen was the rather large looming grey clouds coming over the back of the hill. Coffee time!

Who knows if this cloud would clear....there was no way we could even walk on the slope to spray the letters, let alone have over a hundred people get there and stand safely. It seems to me that when you get involved with sports that are effected by weather you develop a sense of patience.

It was about 11:30 by the time the snow softened enough to start spraying again. Ivy was doing a fantastic job of telling everyone what was happening and that 1:30 was the time to show your support for a fair global climate treaty. Since we were right under the main lift everyone was asking what we were doing. We were on the radio, the journalists had been contacted....all we needed now were people. As with anything Wanaka based you just never know how many people will turn up.

I was blown away by the amount of people that turned up. I did my best to arrange them on the stencil with gaps to begin with and then as the others turned up they could fill in the blanks. Garrick was in position, all we needed now was the cloud to clear. The mood of everyone there was amazing, such a great buzz about being part of something so cool. I must admit....I'd have preferred if I hadn't been pelted by what felt like a few hundred snowballs, but you know it's not the worst that could have happened.

Once the photo had been taken it took seconds for everyone to disperse and Mike and I were left standing there kinda wondering what had happened. What a crazy week.

Upon reflection, what this felt like to me was almost a minute silence type feel. We took longer than a minute, thanks everyone, but for around half on hour on Thursday 1st October you were at the 350 site or on your way to it. If you weren't, it was like you were breaking a minute silence. I have been absolutely blown away with the support we had from everybody up there! So thank you all so much, what an inspiring message to send to our politicians and all the other groups who are planning action to demonstrate what they feel about 350 and their desire for a fair global climate treaty.

With all that in mind, I'd like to thank once again; Mike Illingworth - The worlds best volunteer, Ivy Willmott - Little Miss Energy and Motivator, Treble Cone, Sustainable Wanaka, everyone who helped in the planning and the hundred and seventy or so good people who took time out of their day to support 350!

Stop Press: 350 Wellington have just been sent the photo to use in their launch party slideshow tomorrow night! It's being used already

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Three Little Pigs

Wanaka Primary put on quite possibly the best school play I have ever seen. With their new school being built and the school embracing the Eco-Hut Challenge, the juniors have embraced this with their production of the three little pigs.

Held at the Lake Wanaka Center, which was packed to capacity, the children gave an amazing performance. I'm sure we are all aware of the story of the three little pigs. Wanaka Primary gave a great little twist to it all and I was overwhelmed by how much they mentioned sustainability and recycling.

The three little pigs all investigated different building methods and materials. They all have their advantages but some have a few more dissadvantages than others, especially when you look at their strength. It didn;t take much huffing and puffing to blow downthe straw and stick houses. The house built from materials found at Wanaka Wastebusters stood the test of the big bad wolf!

We've all heard the Jack Johnson song 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle'? Well watch out Jack, the students of Wanaka Primary have done a way better job of it than you. They were incredible and to be honest I was left rather speechless by the end of it. Absolutely blown away.

The sets and costumes were awesome! The acting and singing was first class. I've no idea what you guys are going to do next year but you've got a very hard act to follow.

If you come down to Wastebusters you can get windows, doors, taps.......

...and look what you can build

Do we have enough resources to keep on going like this?

When I was trained on the Zero Waste Education Resource Sustainability unit a few months ago I was pretty inspired with the content of it. It's aimed at intermediate level students, years 7 & 8, and boy does it pack a heavy weight punch.

Essentialy we look at the resources we have on planet Earth. What is our stuff made from? How is it made? What resources do we use in making it and getting it to us? What happens at the end of it's useful life? All of the questions you'd expect really.

To get a better understanding of this we look at cradle to grave manufacturing processes. When you look at this process, and especially the energy and waste involved within the manufacturing process it becomes rather overwhealming. When your attention reverts to the millions of plastic water bottles that are bought and discarded every day it just blows your mind. So many of us hardly spare a thought for what is embeded within our everyday products that we literally take for granted.

Even with this in mind it kinda seems like we've been trucking along nicely like this for a while, some guys are going on about the blobe warming up, but it can't make that much difference can it? Right.....If you need any more convincing on this issue I urge you to watch this short population animation. There is a little bit of an issue when we look at the math behind steady growth. Something we are all told is a good thing.....hmmmm I beg to differ. Steady growth is good at first but then it just goes beserk, like I say, watch this video and be prepared for your mind to be blown.

So now your mind has been blown we need to have some solutions. Rather than Cradle to Grave manufacturing we need to support Cradle to Cradle. So on the last of our four days in class we look at how we can put our waste product back into the manufacturing stream. Creating clean streams rather than waste streams.

We still need to follow the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle philosophy as well as purchasing as much produce as possible that has been made locally. However we will still purchase things that when they reach the end of their life will need to be discarded. So, lets really think about what we are buying and when we make a purchase use our super powered human brain to make an intelligent choice and buy a product that can go back into the manufacturing stream. If you're really on to it, you'll look for products that have been made from resources that have come from a waste stream.

This is such a powerful unit, please get in touch if you'd like me to deliver it to your school.

Reusing in the old goldtown

It would appear that September 09 is all about going back to schools I haven't been to in ages. It's so good to be back in Arrowtown Primary. 5 middles classes were the first to see me in my mamouth two week visit.
  1. As usual there were some very imaginative creations with the reusing objects in a bag game. What I do with this activity is;
  2. Split the class into five groups
  3. Each group gets a brown paper bag with three items in it
  4. The items get pulled out one at a time and then each group gets 30 seconds to give as many alternative uses for the item as possible
  5. Once we've been round the groups three times they all get a minute and a half to come up with something that all three items can be made into

Have a look below at some of the super cool desk tidies and piggy banks that these guys made, great work!

Chickens at the head of the lake......

It seems like it's been way too long since I paid a visit to Glenorchy. I tell you what, these guys have been busy......I'm sure you'll remember that they were planning to install a chicken coop to help take care of their organic waste, well it's arrived and is awesome!

The purpose of my visit wasn't to go and see the chicken coop, I had other things to do. Mainly deliver a few of the Zero Waste Education units. Over the two days I was there we got through Recycling and Compost with the senior class during the morning and then in the afternoons I worked with the very imaginative juniors on the Reuse unit. We had a ball, considering the very wide age range we managed to get everything done and when it came to making the desk tidies and piggy banks I'll sure you'll agree they did a wonderful job.

It was the first time I'd done the recycling unit and boy do these fellas up at Glenorchy know their stuff about waste and recycling. We flew through it. The compost was a little more challenging, partly due to the activity of making a mini compost in a milk bottle. Not that that is hard, but even with a small group it gets quite entertaining. As always the students got it and made some fantastic worm farms!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Central Otago Edible Garden Workshop

Edible gardens are on the tip of everyones tongues in EfS world at the moment.....mostly becasue growing your own food is not only fun but one of the easiest ways to help reduce our carbon footprint. The food we buy, especially here in Central has to come a very long way to get to us and as such has pretty high food miles associated with it.

This workshop was organised by Kathy Hamilton (Healthy Eating Coordinator from Healthy Eating Healthy Action), Jo Arthur (Health Promotion Coordinator from the Heart Foundation) and Tania McLean (EfS Advisor for Otago & Southland). They certainly pulled the stops out to make this event happen, the turnout was amazing, about 40 people came to learn about edible gardening in schools.

The day was split into activites for all of us together, such as Jo's fabulous cooking demo, and break out groups. I lead the compost break out group so am not too sure what went on in the planting, using your produce & curriculum links groups. what I do know is that everyone was full of energy and ideas during the day.....It's so good to see teachers getting so excited about such important projects.

With all of the learning done we headed over to Central Wormworx to see how commercial worm farming is done. Thanks Robbie, the perfect end to a fantastic day!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wanaka Enviroschool Cluster Meeting

I got together with Wanaka, Hawea Flat and Makarora Primaries last night at Sailz Cafe in Lake Hawea to discus what we are doing in school at the moment in relation to Enviroschools and anything else connected with sustainability. Sailz Cafe very kindly offered to shout us the coffee too, what an amazing gesture, so remember the next time you're hanging out in Lake Hawea, pop in there for a cuppa and support them.

We had a fabulous meeting and discussed heaps of stuff. We started off talking about the Eco-Hut Challenge. All of these schools are registered and work is getting underway. We were amazed by tales of the students investigations at Wanaka Primary. Some of the students are designing and building their own solar water panels, another class has built model buildings out of rolled up newspapers, sketch up club is still a buzz at lunchtime.....Great work guys!

Hawea Flat are about to launch their travel cards as part of their work towards the school travel plan. Kerry from Wanaka Primary was really impressed with this idea, she's also seen it as part of a walking school bus in another school. So I'm going to create some cards for them as they get their walking school buses back into action this spring.

350 was also a hot topic of conversation. We think that the 23rd of October is going to be the Upper Clutha School Sports Day. So with this in mind, it looks like we are going to have all the schools together anyway on that day! How lucky is that? So......the plan....we were thinking that it would be really cool if we could put out the challenge to everyone that between us we all walk or run 350km during lunch time. Each school will be designated a certain distance that they have to run or walk and it's down to them to make it happen between themselves.

We also loved the idea from one of the students at Hawea Flat about making a soup from 350 locally sourced vegetables. With all those children we may need a little more than that, so....another idea from Kerry was to draw a 350km radius around Wanaka and create a lunch sourced from food that can be grown within that distance. Anyone know any chefs willing to do a super cool massive lunch? Keep your eyes peeled, this is going to be AWESOME!

The other plan that we are trying to hatch is how the schools can have a stall at the Wanaka A&P show in March next year to showcase all the actions they've taken for the environment as well as them holding workshops to teach the community how to make some of the fabulous products they've been producing.

We're going to have our next meeting around week 5 term 4 and we're going to see if we can get all the other Wanaka schools involved......Great work everyone, I'm so proud of all the work that is being done in our town!

Grime Seen Investigations

I've got yet another super cool project from Ivy (, The Third Fiddle in the Department of Dreams and Ideas down here at Wanaka Wasteusters. So here we go, over to Ivy......

Have you ever been walking, biking, driving along enjoying some of the fine scenery this country has to offer, when there in front of you is the eyesore of someone’s discarded chip packets, empty bottles, fast food wrappers…. Well, we at Wanaka Wastebusters have had enough and have decided to do something about it.

We are starting a campaign to put the pressure on brand owners to take more responsibility for what happens to their products right up to the end of their life. We want you to join us.

During Keep New Zealand Beautiful week, people are focusing on picking up litter. We want to focus on exactly what brands litter is being picked up. We need to gather a whole lot more information and we need your help.

We have created an experiment to find out exactly what rubbish is being dropped.

Which are the most common brands?

Here are two ways you can help:

  • Do a litter clean-up before Sept 4th, keep a record of your findings and email them back to me.
  • If you are doing a litter clean-up as part of Keep New Zealand Beautiful week, keep a record of your findings and email them to me at the end of the KNZB week.

(If you are in the Wanaka Area you can bring your waste collected to Wanaka Wastebusters and I can sort through it for you)

In this pack when you open the attachments above you will find

  • A ‘How to’ conduct the experiment fact sheet.
  • A results page for you to record your results
  • A link at the top of the page to a short film we made at Wanaka Wastebusters to get your creative juices flowing and inspire you with how much fun it can be.

So grab your friends, work buddies, family, anyone who is keen to help and get yourself out there. Let’s join together and make ourselves heard.

Email me if you are interested in taking part. I can also help with a media release of your results for your local area once the experiment is completed.

You can download the instructions here and you can download the recording sheet here.

Have fun out there with this awesome project, and if you need any more inspiration check out this super cool video that Ivy and some of our other team members made, it ROCKS!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village

Imagine a whole village built from old bottles......wouldn't that be cool? Well that's exactly what Grandma Prisbrey thought, so she built one. Check out the website
about this amazing village made out of old discarded bottles.

The colours are amazing, especially as the light shines through and I'll bet the walls have a really
high 'R' value. All you have to do is plug up the gaps and hope there are no earthquakes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Some Climate Change Resources

Planet Green have put together a page of resources that can be used to talk about climate change in school. It's a little Americanised, however there are a few stunning video clips that are available to be watched for free via the wonderful Internet.

Who wants to go for a walk through an eco town?

I've stumbled across a really nice short animation about what it may be like to walk through a fururistic "Eco-Town". It's a little tongue in cheek and perfect to watch over a quick cuppa.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

More Building Inspiration

Another super cool building article on Tree Hugger......This time it's a floating spaceframe home....check it out here....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Keep New Zealand Beautiful Week

Keep New Zealand Beautiful Week is fast approaching.

This year it is happening between 4th-11th September You can get involved along with the rest of New Zealand and join in the national clean-up.

You can do a clean-up at anytime during the week. Get a group together. Friends, classmates, workmates. Your group can be any size large or small.

Choose an area you enjoy spending time in and has litter laying around. A favourite walk! a favourite play place!

Get in touch with Ivy at Wanaka Wastebusters and she can help choose a place with you and also make sure no two groups do the same place twice.

Wanaka Wastebusters is the KNZB co-ordinator this year for the Wanaka area. This means we will have a supply of bags and gloves for you to use for collecting the litter.

Before the day of your clean up come and see me and i can give you as many bags and gloves as you will need.

Afterwards bring all the bags back to Wanaka Wastebusters so we can keep a record of how much is collected and dispose of them for you.

Check out the KNZB website for more details about how the national campaign is going.

Ivy ( can't wait to hear from you all