… a year of living sustainably
After a year of being in the Sustainability Committee, we wanted to reflect on our experiences and express our gratitude for all the opportunities we’ve had as a result of the enthusiasm of the school community. We joined Sustainability because we wanted to make a change and truly believed that we could make a difference at Emanuel. We are all passionate about the environment and feel that no matter how small the action, there is always an impact.
We wanted to make environmental activism and conservation easier and more accessible for the Emanuel community. We saw and enjoyed the way the previous Sustainability Committee was able to engage all of High School with funny videos and speeches. With this in mind, we aimed to express our ideas in ways that were both interesting and informative.
As part of the committee we ran many events and organised a number of activities for the school and the community:
One of the first large-scale activities we ran as part of the committee was run under covid restrictions. We participated in a virtual protest to protest against the government’s use of coal and gas which are ruining our planet. Everyone in their tutor groups created posters and wore yellow to support the cause. We took photos together and joined with many schools, corporations and other organisations across Australia to protest!
This year, as a committee, we have created an Instagram account – @sustainabilityemanuel – in which we share tips on how to be more environmentally friendly, interesting facts and current environmental news. We believe that having an Instagram account is a great way in which we can spread the sustainability message.
In the confusion and chaos of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us forgot about the devastating bushfires and the monumental impacts it had on the environment. For this reason, we decided to have an animal wildlife week. During the week we used the Sustainability Instagram page to post infographics on seven different Australian animals facing extinction. As well as this there was a Ma Nishma article and speech aiming to spread awareness and encourage action. Finally, there was a plain clothes day in order to raise money for the Australian Wildlife Conservatory.
One of the initiatives we maintained throughout the year was composting. This initiative was introduced last year by the previous sustainability committee and, in order to continue it, we decided to create a fortnightly roster to empty out and maintain the various compost bins dispersed around the school playgrounds. The Emanuel students never fail to fill up the bins every week meaning we produce a lot of compost, which is a great repurposed resource that gives back to the environment and school gardens. Although gross at times, doing compost duty has taught us a lot about hands-on sustainable action.
Earth Hour is a time where for one hour all unnecessary electricity is turned off. This is to display support for the environment and a push towards renewable energy, whilst also showing that if all individuals make a small change we can make a large difference. The Sustainability Committee took part in this initiative, running a program for all of High School. It involved a relaxing meditation that reconnected everyone with nature and doable tips and tricks that all students could partake in during the holidays that would help the environment and make the Emanuel community more sustainable.
Since the beginning of Term 3 last year, we have each published Ma Nishma articles to educate and bring awareness to critical environmental issues that we are passionate about. The articles contained key information regarding the issue and then provided simple opportunities/actions for people to lower their impact on the planet. We hope to have brought awareness to a wide variety of environmental concerns and hope that people have utilised any of the tips we provide to benefit their impact on our planet.
We’ve made four videos about various sustainability issues, including composting, recycling, saving electricity and Randwick Council’s new FOGO initiative. We had a great time creating the videos and were so grateful for all the positive feedback we received and have learned a lot about different ways that we can communicate important information.
One of our favourite events this year was the clothes drive. We weren’t expecting such an incredible result, but were overwhelmed by the response from students, parents and teacher. We had four cars full of bags, and were able to gather around $3000 worth of clothes for Vinnies.
One of our most important changes is making the YearBooks one per family. This decreases the paper waste by so much and is an amazing change!
We think one of the most challenging aspects of activism is identifying what you personally can do to make change, so in everything that we did, we made sure to provide some simple, achievable tips to help people get involved in a way that seemed realistic. Some of our top tips for reducing your impact are:
Jacob: Try not to buy into fast fashion. Go to second-hand stores such as Vinnies or even better raid your sibling’s or parent’s closet. That way you’re helping to save the environment while also saving money!
Georgia: Try to bring your own forks to school rather than getting plastic ones from the canteen.
Ruben: Avoid using single-use plastics by investing in tupperware and beeswax wraps!
Ari: Most soft plastic packaging can be easily recycled at your local supermarket!
Zac: One easy way to cut down on plastic usage is to use a metal water bottle. Not only are these water bottles more durable and longer lasting but they limit your exposure to microplastics and stop these water bottles from ending up in the ocean where they can be dangerous.
Guy: Make sure to use a metal straw or no straw – not plastic!
Lara: Make sure you bring your own reusable bags when you go shopping!
Sophie: Make sure to pick up rubbish everywhere you go, especially on the beaches!!! The turtles will thank you 🙂
Romi: To reduce your meat consumption and your impact on the world, try meat-free Mondays!
Tara: Always turn off the lights when you leave or when it’s light outside!
We are so excited to see how the next Sustainability Committee continues to make positive environmental change at Emanuel and have really appreciated how much the Emanuel community has participated in all our initiatives.
By Guy, Georgia, Jacob, Romi, Ruben, Sophie, Tara, Zac L, Lara and Ari