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The average WA student discards 3kg of avoidable food waste at school.

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This equals around 3 million whole fruit pieces, 1.3 million packaged food items and 3.5 million whole sandwiches.

Schools are a hotbed of potential when it comes to owning our impact. Our schools are increasingly stepping up to the challenge, but they can't achieve great outcomes without support from students, their families and staff.

What’s the problem?

Schools are a training ground for the future. If we don’t equip younger Western Australians with knowledge and good habits – helping them to say no to excessive consumption  we’ll have an even bigger waste problem to contend  with.

What can you do?

There’s momentum around waste reduction in Western Australian schools already. There are more than 400 accredited Waste Wise Schools and nearly 160,000 students actively engaged in reducing waste.

Kids from Bold Park Primary

Kids from East Vic Park Primary

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The Own Your Impact guide to

Cutting waste at school

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Kids

  • Take a note of what you don't eat - if there are particular foods that you regularly throw away have a chat with the person who packs your lunchbox. All that wasted food creates greenhouse emissions so either pack less or pack something different.

  • Do a lunchbox audit - collect all of the packaging from your lunchbox for a week and see what this looks like. Then consider whether there are one or two things you could eradicate the next week and brainstorm how you could do this.

  • Dispose of your waste in the right place - recycle what you can, put food scraps in to the compost bin if your school has one, and only throw out what you need to.

  • Say no to single-use plastic - avoid straws, drinks sold in plastic bottles and boxes, plastic cutlery and items such as glitter.

Parents

  • Aim for low or no waste lunchboxes - avoid pre-packed items where possible and buy bulk or whole foods instead (you'll probably save money too). Also try to get a sense for how much gets eaten vs thrown away.

  • Ask your child about how waste is disposed at school - use this as a conversation starter, but also a guide for how you can help them reduce their impact by packing fewer items that will need to go in to landfill.

  • Consider whether 'new' is essential - from uniforms to the school stationery list embrace the 'reuse' approach. Opt for secondhand and don't replace items out of habit, wait until they actually need replacing, rather than just refreshing.

Staff

  • Check whether your school is Waste Wise accredited - this program helps to teach students and staff how to reduce landfill contributions through the '3Rs' - reduce, reuse and recycle.

WA's Waste Wise Schools are provided with the tools and resources for schools to plan, implement and maintain waste minimising projects, linked to the Australia primary school and high school curriculums, including waste audits, recycling, composting, worm farming, gardening and waste-free lunches.

If your school's not already accredited encourage the leadership team to get on-board, and if it is, become a champion of it.

Don't forget the Waste Authority has a range of toolkits, tools and fact sheets that can also be used to help own your school's impact.

  • Plan a class trip to your local recycling and waste transfer station - sometimes seeing is believing, and it's good for kids to be reminded that the waste journey doesn't end when they place rubbish in the bin.

  • Champion owning your impact in the classroom - lead by example and explain the impact-lowering decisions you make. It's important for kids to see waste reduction in action.

  • Encourage your school to wear its Waste Wise status proudly - reminding parents and students of the school's commitment to owning its impact is important. It's also likely to help motivate them to make changes at home too.

  • Aim for waste-free lunchboxes - what you pack in your own lunchbox makes a difference too, so make the most of leftovers, and think about investing in reusable tools such as sandwich wraps, reusable coffee cups and water bottles to lower your impact in both the home and at work.