If earthworms come to mind, you’re right. If pre-schoolers come to mind, you’re also right, for many three-to-five-year-olds are stewards of these nocturnal invertebrates that reside in kindergartens across the region.
“I like worms because they’re soft,” says Gede, 4, “and because they have little teeth; that’s why we have to chop our food very, very small”.
“I like them because they tickle,” says Malia, also 4.
These young waste warriors attend the Reynella East College Preschool and already know how to divert their lunchtime leftovers from going into landfill. What their worm farm can’t consume is given to families with chickens, or composted.
You won’t find food scraps or other resources in this kindy’s general waste bin. The children wash and upcycle lunchtime packaging, turning yoghurt containers into paint pots and glass jars into pencil holders. And what they don’t reuse, they recycle.
Teacher Melissa McKenzie says parents tell her their children are changing the culture of the home: “Not in that bin, Mum, or it’ll go into a big hole in the ground”, she laughs, adding that the City of Onkaparinga’s Mad about Worms and Beyond the Bin educational programs empower children.
“The kids are reducing the impact of waste on our environment and they want others to as well. And I’d like to thank the council for that. The support they have given us, and the programs they’ve taught, have been so successful that our general waste bin is often empty,” Melissa says.
Striving towards a sustainable future, the City of Onkaparinga has seen an impressive uptake of its zero waste initiatives. Waste and Recycling Education Officer Lynda Wedding is part of the team that travels across the region teaching students, residents and businesses how to minimise waste, protect our oceans, and let microbes manage food waste.
Here are a few of Lynda’s tips:
- Take advantage of council’s 50 per cent subsidy on worm farms, compost bins and bokashi.
- Compost food waste and reduce Australian landfill by 40 per cent.
- Use glass jars for storage.
- Say no to plastic straws.
- Choose keep-cups and reusable drink bottles.
- Switch to bamboo toothbrushes.
- Buy imperfect produce.
- Remember your reusable shopping bags.
- Buy in bulk to reduce waste and save money.
For more information or to book a presentation telephone 8384 0666.