Environmental sustainability involves making decisions and taking actions that are in the interests of protecting and sustaining the natural world indefinitely.
At Clifton Street Children’s Centre (CSCC), environmental sustainability is at the heart of what we do.
There is now overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change is occurring and that the most probable cause of this is human activity; primarily greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, the evidence suggests there is an urgent need to take action to mitigate the negative effects of global warming in order to avoid serious future environmental, health, social and economic consequences. It is the next generation – our children – that will be impacted most by climate change. Subsequently, the staff and Committee of Management at Clifton Street Children’s Centre feel very strongly that we have a responsibility to do all we can minimise the environmental footprint of our service.
As well as positively contributing socially and environmentally, we have much to gain through implementing carbon reduction strategies. On the whole, there is a strong financial incentive for reducing resource usage. Environmental sustainability initiatives also present important ‘real life’ educational opportunities for our children, inspiring and empowering them at a young age to contribute towards a healthy and sustainable society and planet. In addition, by being a ‘green centre’ with involvement from staff, committee members, children and families, we provide ourselves with common purpose and a point of difference that separates us from other centres.
CSCC’s Environmental Sustainability Subcommittee sits within the Committee of Management. Our vision and mission statement can be viewed here. Our strategic plan can be viewed here. We work closely with staff in all that we do.
2015 was a big and exiting year for environmental sustainability at CSCC. We began by conducting a comprehensive sustainability audit. Its purpose was to establish and document our baseline practice (when, where, why and how energy and water were being used), and from there, to identify opportunities for improvement. A copy of the report can be viewed here.
From there, our most obvious achievement was the installation a large 15kW solar system on the roof of Clifton Street. We also installed a new ultra-efficient electric hot water system and upgraded our lighting from fluorescent tubes to LEDs.
In addition to major upgrades to infrastructure, the Environmental Sustainability Subcommittee worked with staff to review and ‘green-up’ our day-to-day practices. We now purchase all of our fruit and vegetables from Spade and Barrow, a small local business that believes in a fair and equitable food system, where farmers receive a fair price and customers are given the opportunity to purchase fresh produce direct from farms. We also changed to a ‘green’ electricity provider, Diamond Energy, which invests its money in renewable rather than coal and gas.
Staff moved to predominant purchase of art and craft supplies from Resource Rescue and Reverse Art Truck, business that collect rejects, seconds and factory off cuts for distribution to schools and childcare centres. This allows re-use of materials that would otherwise have been thrown away, reducing the demand for new raw materials as well as reducing the environmental impact of waste going into landfill. In addition, staff have done an amazing job of incorporating themes of sustainability into the teaching curriculum, helping to educate and inspire our kids about the environment and their connection to it.
Because of all these changes, we have been awarded a place in the Darebin Green Business Directory. We were also profiled in the December 2015 issue of Darebin Sustainability News (click here for the article) and invited to showcase our achievements at the Sustainable Darebin Expo for 2016.
WASTE…. general waste, food waste, plastic waste, paper waste!!!
Why have we chosen this as our focus?
- Australia was recently ranked in the top five waste producing nations on a per person basis.
- Each Australian family contributes enough rubbish each year to fill a three-bedroom house from floor to ceiling.
- Up to 40% of the average household bin is food waste, which contributes disproportionately to greenhouse gas emissions.
- Australians use enough plastic bags per year that if these were tied together they would stretch around the world 24 times.
- In 35 years, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, if we continue with business as usual.
Something has to change!!
We will audit our current waste practices and look for effective and innovative solutions for minimizing waste and maximizing reuse and recycling. A major component of our work will involve education – working with staff to teach our kids that rubbish cannot be truly thrown ‘away’. It has to end up somewhere!
We have lots of plans for the months and years ahead. But, a truly green centre requires buy-in and support from all. We would love at any time to hear ideas, feedback or offers of assistance from any inside (or outside!) the Clifton Street community. If you have any thoughts or would like to get involved, please speak with Leanne, Heather or any of the staff and they will direct you to us!