Youth are mobilising to advocate for the environment, as thousands of students protested for greater action towards climate change across Australia last month. Their message is being heard, but more in-depth sustainability knowledge and leadership experience, coupled with greater tailored support from school staff, will help these young leaders amplify their voices.
Young people across Melbourne like the Grade 3/4 Eco-Warriors from St Columba’s School in Elwood, participate in the EcoCentre’s leadership program for students and teachers.
These inspiring students led classroom and community projects to highlight how daily life in their suburb connects to the health of Elster Creek and Port Phillip Bay. They installed a rain garden – now lush with a rainbow of flowers – to slow and filter campus runoff. “I learnt that the rain garden is designed to protect our canal and the bay by collecting hte stormwater that runs off the roof when it rains,” said Eco-Warrior Thomas Carrick.
Learning to spot local species can inspire students to stop plastic pollution.The Eco-Warriors developed and delivered kids-teaching-kids workshops for 13 other schools at the School Sustainability Festival to learn waste reduction and recycling tips.
St Columba’s also wanted to create positive habitat, so students planted 1250 locally indigenous tubestock, supporting habitat for bird species. (Over one third of Victoria’s bird species, as well as Australian and international migratory birds, visit or reside in the Elster Creek coastal zone.)
Victoria recently certified St Columba’s as a 5-Star ResourceSmart School. Through their work with the EcoCentre since 2013, they achieved 50% reduction in energy use and emissions; and reduced landfill waste 50% to just 0.21m3 (2-3 buckets) per year by swapping out single-use plastics, recycling more and turning food scraps into fertiliser.
And the school has fun leading sustainability! In October, the Green Team initiated a twilight Eelwood Festiv-eelwelcoming the short-finned eels as they migrated the long distance from the Coral Sea into Elwood’s freshwater canal and Elster Creek.