Sustainable practice… we have all heard about it, we all know we need to be doing it, but what does this mean for our practice in a service?
Sustainability in early childhood education is an important part of the curriculum and should be incorporated into each and every service setting. Creating natural environments and proving natural materials in one way for sustainability to occur. Educators have the responsibility to make sustainable education a part of everyday practices, rather than a topic or theme to consider for a short time. It needs to be embedded within the curriculum and part of the day to day running of the service. Sustainability education, enables educators and children to promote a sense of responsibility, show respect for the natural environment, be active participants and bring about enquiry and social change.
Here are 5 tips to help with sustainable practices in your service.
Consider paper usage: We often think about how we can minimise paper usage by creating online forms or documents that can be saved instead of having to print off paperwork and store it in a folder then dispose of it. Another aspect of paper usage to consider is with the children. Are children encouraged to turn pages over and use both sides? Do they have access to recycled paper sources from business (without confidential information on the other side!).
Use recycled or re-purposed resources: Many services are getting into loose parts and this is a great way to re-purpose materials, that would otherwise be thrown out, into opportunities for exploration, investigation, creativity and learning. There are also lots of ideas online for using pallets or old cable reels and giving them a new life in services as tables, kitchens, tee pees and more.
Consider your purchases: Do you consider the sustainability of new purchases when going through resource catalogues? Using a checklist or guide to ensure purchases are suitable for the service, sturdy enough for multiple uses, made locally and environmentally, can demonstrate how the service considers the environment.
Start with your environment: Sometimes we think respect for the environment means saving the whales and discussing global warming, but consider the developmental abilities and skills of your children. Your environment grows from the space you are in, to the room, the building, the street, the community, the country, the world. If children are not keeping the bathroom clean and wasting water start there and develop an understanding of respecting the environment with something tangible.
Connect with the community: Sustainable practices allow for opportunities to connect with the community through taking “waste” items off business and giving them a new home, working with the community on fund raisers, and even working with businesses like reverse garbage or local artists to find out how to give items a new life and develop new skills.