Monday, March 30, 2009

GetReal - Stop Free Plastic Bags

I've heard about this new website today - GetReal.

GetReal was set up by a bunch of passionate Kiwis who want change.

They want better design and less waste. They want companies to use minimal packaging, and to be proud of it. They want packaging that can be recycled back into the same product.

To get change, they need your help. Together we can force manufacturers and suppliers to use less packaging and to take more responsibility.

So get in behind GetReal, and lets get going.

The first campaign they are getting involved in is to will ask Progressive and Foodstuffs, in no uncertain terms, to stop giving away free plastic bags and to introduce a levy.

So pop on over to GetReal, and get signed up!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Packaging Free Lunch

Packaging free lunches are a real big way to vastly reduce the waste produced in schools. We all want that to happen don't we? However, maybe getting started just isn't quite as easy at it seems.

One of the easiest ways to 'get it' is to have a look at a few pictures. So here we go. Below are a few pictures of what my and a few of my friend's packaging free lunches look like. They are easy to prepare, generally more nutritious and very often cheaper than the heavily packaged alternatives.

This photo above is a sandwich wrapper made by some students at Warrington Primary School. The rather ingeniously figured a way to make a reusable sandwich wrapper out of an old plastic bag, some material and a strip of Velcro. Obviously, a sewing machine helps too.

I also found a few web sites which discus packaging free lunches, there are heaps of ideas on these about what to include in your packaging free lunch box.

As for buying the lunch boxes, try the Warehouse, your supermarket...

I've also happened across the Eco-Tanker. This is a stainless steel water bottle and you can buy spare tops for it. So when the cap breaks you don't have to buy a whole new bottle. You can get information about getting these from

Happy Lunches!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Enviroschools Otago Regional Hui

On Tuesday I went to Dunedin for the Otago Regional Hui. This years theme was 'Water for Life'. With this theme in mind the event was run at Mount Grand Water Treatment Station, Arae Te Uru Marae and the Kaikorai stream. As usual it was a fantastic day.

Wanaka Primary and Queenstown Primary made the trip over, so our district was very well represented. You guys were awesome. We try to get as much student involvement as possible in these regional hui's, and it certainly happened at this one.

The day started at Mount Grand. I had no idea how much effort goes into creating the water we drink. The tour we went on was superb, the guide was fantastic, he knew answers to every question that was fired at him.

We got to see every part of the process, from injection of alulminimum into the water, the separation of the sludge off the top right through to the zapping with UV light. Absolutely fascinating. The next time you flush the toilet, water the garden, leave the tap on when brushing your teeth.....have a think about the effort, energy and expense that goes into making that water drinkable. I can't think of a better way to educate our children about conserving water than showing them the process it takes to make the water drinkable.
This is the computer nerve centre of the plant

This is where aluminium is injected into the water as part of the clarification and flocculation process

Look how high we are!

This is the sludge that they scrape off the water - the result of the flocculation process

Underneath the sludge, this was quite spooky

Look how big this place is. The green wall building is where all the flocculation takes place.

Zapping the water with UV to kill the last of the baddies so it's safe for us to drink

My group for the day - Raupo. Queenstown & Wanaka Primaries. Sitting on the grass before the tour talking about various water issues.

Making water bracelets. You mark off on the bracelet everytime you use water during the day. This really indicates to you how much water you use in a day.

Once we'd finished at Mount Grand we all headed down the road to Arae Te Uru marae and the powhiri. This is a fantastic opportunity for students and teachers to experience this important part of Maori traditions and customs. I must admit it's the most nerve racking part for me. Being the only boy on the team it's my job to deliver the whaikorero, the speech representing all of us during the ceremony.

After we all had lunch, and may I say, well done to everyone for bringing fantastic packaging free lunches. I don't think I saw any Glad Wrap at all, we had some sharing time. During this time I saw one of the best packaging ideas I've ever seen from Warrington school. They have devised a way to make a wrapper for your sandwiches from old plastic carrier bags and some old cloth. Ingenious use of waste products and a fantastic way to avoid using the dreaded Glad Wrap.

We were treated to some amazing kōrero about Otago before we ventured outside to the stream for some action. We split into two groups, one was going to plant and the other was looking at the quality of the stream. There has been a lot of work go into regenerating Kaikorai stream and it is starting to show. They have some fabulous community gardens down there and the place is looking fantastic. Well done everyone!

Kōrero in the whare nui

Learning about planting

Reflection at the end of a very enjoyable and productive day

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wanaka Primary Walking School Bus Features on National TV

This morning Tamati from TV1 Breakfast came to town. He is currently on a tiki tour of New Zealand visiting various towns who are making the effort to get as many cars off the road as possible.

They found Wanaride Share on the Internet and it just snowballed from there. Sophie Ward, the general manager of Sustainable Wanaka did a fantastic job of rounding up all the cool folks in town who use alternative methods of transport to get to and from work and just travel about, we even had a horse or two.

The walking school bus turned up just in time for his final live slot and the ywere fabulous. So many happy smiling faces. Being on national telelvision is a pretty cool way to start the day. Well done to Kath and all the other adult helpers who do a marvelous job of keeping this great initiative going.

You can watch the whole of Tamati's special report on the TV1 website.

Queenstown Primary - The Big Picture

As part of Queenstown Primary's amazing commitment to Enviroschools this year they are keeping me very busy. I've very kindly been asked to visit pretty much every class in school and use the 'Big Picture' from the kit to help explain Sustainability to the students and teachers. This activity is proving to be absolutely fantastic .

I've adapted this activity to work across lots of different age levels. With the middles and the senior I start the 45 minute session with a brainstorm session about the words 'Sustainable' and 'Sustainability'.

I've found that at the begining of the sessions about half the class have heard these words but aside form a few very switched on students most are a little unsure as to what it actually means. It is such a hard word to really get your head around so it's no surprise is it?

We spend about 20 minutes to half an hour figuring it out between ourselves. After an overall chat I split the discussion into different topics;
  • Waste
  • Water
  • Transport
  • Energy
  • Leisure
We then split into five groups. Each group is given a topic and they need to have a look through the picture and find elements of their topic. they wrtie dow nwhat they find and in the final 7 minutes or so each group presents what they've fonud to the rest of the class. By the end these guys really do have a great understanding of 'Sustianable' & 'Sustainability'.

With the juniors it's a little different. After a quick experiment with the first class I decided we were looking for different things. So our new topics are;
  • Food
  • Transport
  • Hobbies
  • Water
Again the split into groups and they draw or write what they find. Spelling doesn't matter at all. It's the concept that is important. You see them really looking into the picture and from what a couple of the teachers tell me they have had some awesome discussions afterwards and the children are already starting to talk about what activities they'd like to be involved in.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reuse Wanaka Primary

Week 4 was Wanaka Primary's turn for the Zero Waste Education Reuse unit and boy were these guys going to keep me busy. I had five classes from the middle school to visit and they were awesome.

We spent the week having very lively and active discussions. I was really impressed with the knowledge that these students already had about Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. AND, whilst I'm on this topic, during the time that I was there the children were being taught a fabulous song all about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I was treated to a few amazing performances of this. You guys blew me away.

The week just flew by, as usual heaps of reusable stuff came in early and there were some amazing examples of sharing of resources on the final make the desk tidy / piggy bank day.

Enough from me, stay tuned for some pictures below but if you'd like the real low down on what went on check out the Room 10 blog, they've got a great voice thread about our week together.