Australian school gets rid of garbage cans, tells kids to take home trash

An Australian school is locking up its garbage cans and telling students to take their trash home with them in a strategic move to help the school move toward zero waste.

Melbourne Girls’ College hopes the plan encourages families to think about sustainability when it comes to packing their kids’ lunches and eventually make wiser, more environmentally-friendly choices.

Principal Karen Money told ABC Radio Melbourne that the idea came from a group of students who are part of the school’s sustainability team.

“It’s a big issue across the world and really it has come from student agency,” she told the radio show.

Money said the group of students, led by two senior staff members, have been working on the plan for nearly a year.

“When they brought it to me, they had a very detailed phase-out and a very detailed approach to what is a pretty big step,” she said, adding that she believes the actions of one school to educate, communicate, reuse, recycle and repurpose could have a ripple effect not only to the student’s family but to the community at large.

“If we all did nothing then we are just going to be in an even worse crisis,” she said.

Students at Melbourne Girls’ College will conduct daily non-compulsory food inspections. Students who use reusable packaging will get a token that puts them in the running for prizes.

While classroom trash cans will be removed and replaced with recycling stations and compost options, there will be a couple of trash cans in use including ones in the bathroom and one for large items the students might have trouble carrying home.

In a letter to parents, Money said the plan is being adopted with a goal of the school becoming “a zero waste to landfill school by the end of 2020, massively reducing our environmental impact.”

“We hope that this will encourage everyone – students and staff alike – to reduce their waste by brining less waste to school and, in doing so, create less waste at home,” she said.

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