Environmental Sustainability

Environmental Sustainability Policy

Best Practice – Quality Area 3

Purpose

This policy will provide guidelines to assist Elsa Macleod Kindergarten to take an active role in caring for the environment, and promoting and contributing to a sustainable future.

Policy statement

1.   Values

Elsa Macleod Kindergarten is committed to:

  • promoting respect for, and an appreciation of, the natural environment among all at the service
  • fostering children’s capacity to understand and respect the natural environment, and the interdependence between people, plants, animals and the land
  • supporting the development of positive attitudes and values in line with sustainable practices
  • ensuring that educators and other staff engage in sustainable practices during the operation of the service.

2.   Scope

This policy applies to the Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor, Certified Supervisor, educators, staff, students on placement, volunteers, parents/guardians, children and others attending the programs and activities of Elsa Macleod Kindergarten.

3.   Background and legislation

Background

One of the most significant responsibilities that [early childhood] professionals have is to support children to retain the sense of awe and wonder that they are born with, to add to that a desire to nurture and protect what is beautiful, and to encourage them to appreciate that there are many possibilities for honouring life and wonders that the world holds” (Stonehouse, A. (2006) NSW Curriculum Framework for Children’s Services – refer to Sources).

Current research confirms that experiences in the early years help establish lifelong behaviour and values, and this reinforces the need for sustainability education to be included in early childhood programs. It is important for children to understand their place in the world and the role that they can play in protecting the environment. Children should learn to be environmentally responsible and be empowered to make a difference, and this learning should not wait until the ‘formal education’ of primary school. Elliot and Davis (refer to Sources) state that “early childhood educators have an active and significant role to play ensuring children experience connections with the natural environment in meaningful ways… which will ultimately promote action for sustainability”.

Environmental education can be defined as learning about the environment and how natural systems function; the interconnectedness of plants, animals, humans and the planet we inhabit. Environmental education promotes the growth of knowledge, skills and values about the environment, often with a focus on science and nature. In an early childhood setting, environmental education is integrated into everyday decisions made as part of the curriculum.

Sustainability can be defined in a broader and more holistic context of education for the environment. The complexities of social, environmental and economic systems are acknowledged, and their implications for sustaining life are considered. The aim of sustainability education is to promote a sense of responsibility, respect, empowerment, active participation, enquiry and a desire for social change (adapted from ECA Environmental Sustainability Policy 2005). The goal of sustainability education is to empower children and adults to think and act in ways that meet their immediate needs without jeopardising the potential of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable practice in early childhood settings requires a holistic approach that integrates all aspects of sustainability into service operations.

The National Quality Standard (Quality Area 3: Physical Environment) includes a discussion on the service taking an active role in caring for its environment and contributing to a sustainable future (Standard 3.3). As service providers to the community, education and care services have an opportunity not only to make reductions to waste, water and energy consumption through their operations, but to role-model sustainable living to young children in a world facing climate change, increasing levels of air, land and water pollution, and depleted natural resources.

Legislation and standards

Relevant legislation and standards include but are not limited to:

  • Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010
  • Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011
  • National Quality Standard, Quality Area 3: Physical Environment

–    Standard 3.3: The service takes an active role in caring for its environment and contributes to a sustainable future

–    Element 3.3.1: Sustainable practices are embedded in service operations

–    Element 3.3.2: Children are supported to become environmentally responsible and show respect for the environment

4.   Definitions

The terms defined in this section relate specifically to this policy. For commonly used terms e.g. Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor, Regulatory Authority etc. refer to the General Definitions section of this manual.

Environmental sustainability: The responsible use and management of the planet’s resources to ensure that they remain available and uncompromised for future generations to use and enjoy.

5.   Sources and related policies

Sources

  • Belonging, Being & Becoming – The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia: www.deewr.gov.au/EarlyChildhood/Policy_Agenda/Quality/Pages/
    EarlyYearsLearningFramework.aspx#key documents
  • Davis, J. M. and Elliott, S. (2004) Mud pies and daisy chains: Connecting young children and nature. In Every Child, 10(4) p4
  • Early Childhood Australia (unpublished final draft), ECA Environmental Sustainability Policy. Early Childhood Australia: http://home.vicnet.net.au/~eeec/policy.pdf
  • Educators’ Guide to the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia: www.deewr.gov.au/Earlychildhood/Policy_Agenda/Quality/Pages/
    EarlyYearsLearningFramework.aspx#key documents
  • Environmental Education in Early Childhood (EEEC): www.eeec.org.au
  • Guide to the National Quality Standard, ACECQA: www.acecqa.gov.au
    and http://acecqa.gov.au/links-and-resources/national-quality-framework-resources/
  • Hughes, M. (2007) Climbing the little green steps: How to promote sustainability within early childhood services in your local area, Gosford and Wyong Council: www.gosford.nsw.gov.au
    and www.wyong.nsw.gov.au
  • My Time, Our Place – Framework for School Age Care in Australia: www.deewr.gov.au/Earlychildhood/Policy_Agenda/Pages/FrameSchAgeCare.aspx
  • Stonehouse, A. (2006) NSW Curriculum Framework for Children’s Services: www.community.nsw.gov.au/docswr/_assets/main/documents/childcare_framework.pdf
  • Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework: www.education.vic.gov.au/earlylearning/eyldf/default.htm
  • Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework – Resources for Professionals: www.education.vic.gov.au/earlylearning/eyldf/profresources.htm
  • Child Safe Environment Policy
  • Curriculum Development Policy
  • Excursions and Service Events Policy
  • Sun Protection Policy
  • Supervision of Children Policy
  • Water Safety Policy
  • collaborating with the Nominated Supervisor, educators, staff, parents/guardians, children and others at the service to identify environmental sustainability strategies for implementation (refer to Attachment 1 – Strategies for environmental sustainability)
  • allocating the necessary resources to implement the identified environmental sustainability strategies at the service
  • ensuring the Nominated Supervisor and all staff are aware of their responsibilities under this Environmental Sustainability Policy
  • ensuring the identified strategies (refer to Attachment 1 – Strategies for environmental sustainability) are implemented at the service
  • ensuring parents/guardians are aware of, and have access to, the Environmental Sustainability Policy.
  • collaborating with the Approved Provider, educators, staff, parents/guardians, children and others at the service to identify environmental sustainability strategies for implementation at the service (refer to Attachment 1 – Strategies for environmental sustainability)
  • implementing identified strategies for which they have responsibility at the service (refer to Attachment 1 – Strategies for environmental sustainability)
  • ensuring environmental education and practices are incorporated into the curriculum (refer to Curriculum Development Policy)
  • providing families with information about environmentally sustainable practices e.g. through displays, fact sheets and local community resources, and by ensuring that they have access to the Environmental Sustainability Policy
  • making recommendations to the Approved Provider about green and sustainable options for the service, that reflect the guidelines within this policy
  • seeking and applying for grants, where appropriate, to support the implementation of strategies within this policy
  • keeping up to date with current research, resources and best practice through newsletters, journals and support agencies such as Environmental Education in Early Childhood (EEEC).
  • collaborating with the Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor, fellow educators/staff, parents/guardians, children and others at the service to identify environmental sustainability strategies for implementation at the service (refer to Attachment 1 – Strategies for environmental sustainability)
  • implementing identified strategies for which they have responsibility at the service (refer to Attachment 1 – Strategies for environmental sustainability)
  • engaging in activities that support the service to become more environmentally sustainable (e.g. recycling)
  • incorporating environmental education and sustainable practices within the curriculum
  • planning opportunities for children to connect with nature and the natural world at the service, including on excursions and at other service events
  • incorporating celebrations of environmental awareness into the program e.g. National Tree Day, National Recycling Week, Clean Up Australia Day and Walk to Work Day
  • keeping up to date with current research, resources and best practice through newsletters, journals and support agencies such as Environmental Education in Early Childhood (EEEC).
  • collaborating with the Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor, educators, staff, children and others at the service to identify environmental sustainability strategies for implementation at the service (refer to Attachment 1 – Strategies for environmental sustainability)
  • following the strategies identified and outlined in this Environmental Sustainability Policy
  • encouraging their children to adopt environmentally sustainable practices at both the service and at home.

Service policies

Procedures

The Approved Provider is responsible for:

The Nominated Supervisor is responsible for:


Certified Supervisors, educators and other staff are responsible for:

Parents/guardians are responsible for:

Volunteers and students, while at the service, are responsible for following this policy and its procedures.

Evaluation

In order to assess whether the values and purposes of the policy have been achieved, the Approved Provider will:

  • regularly seek feedback from everyone affected by the policy regarding its effectiveness
  • monitor the implementation, compliance, complaints and incidents in relation to this policy
  • keep the policy up to date with current legislation, research, policy and best practice
  • revise the policy and procedures as part of the service’s policy review cycle, or as required
  • notify parents/guardians at least 14 days before making any changes to this policy or its procedures.
  • Attachment 1: Strategies for environmental sustainability

Attachments

Authorisation

This policy was adopted by the Approved Provider of Elsa Macleod Kindergarten Inc in August, 2013.

Review date:    February, 2020

Attachment 1

Strategies for Environmental Sustainability

This checklist can be used to promote discussion and formulate an environmental sustainability policy for the service. Many of these strategies were drawn from Mia Hughes’ Climbing the little green steps: How to promote sustainability within early childhood services in your local area (refer to Sources). Other strategies can be added to the checklist as required – refer to Sources as a starting point for further information. Ensure that responsibility for implementation is allocated to each strategy adopted e.g. Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor, educators, parents/guardians, children etc. Agreed strategies should form the basis of the service’s Environmental Sustainability Policy.

Strategy Adopt  (Yes/No) Responsible for implementation (e.g. Nominated Supervisor, educators,   etc.)
Data Collection
Collect baseline data from energy and   water bills, and monitor waste collection. Use information gathered to set   reduction targets and evaluate whether they have been achieved.
Green purchasing
Purchase local products
Purchase recycled products
Purchase energy and water efficient   products
Purchase organic produce
Purchase items with minimal packaging
Purchase chemical-free, green cleaning   products
Purchase formaldehyde-free paint
Waste
Minimise waste from one-use, throwaway   products (e.g. paper towels, disposable nappies, wet wipes) by changing   behaviours and procedures, and using alternative products. The following are   some suggestions.
  •   Replace paper towels with   individual cloth towels on a peg located in the bathroom or at each child’s   locker, and washed each week.
  •   Install a low energy electric   hand dryer.
  •   Cut paper towels in half to   reduce waste while working towards using cloth towels or installing a low   energy electric hand dryer.
  •   Replace disposable nappies with   a nappy wash service.
  •   Replace wet wipes with   washable cloths.
Encourage children to bring a rubbish-free   lunch/snack in a reusable container.
Adopt green cleaning practices by using   safe and sustainable cleaning products and methods.
Recycle plastic waste (codes #1–#7),   glass, paper, cardboard, foil and metal.
Investigate composting of food scraps.
Explore the waste hierarchy of refuse   within the educational program i.e. reduce, reuse, repair and recycle.
Refrain from using food items for   children’s play experiences (e.g. rice, pasta, jelly etc.) as this is   wasteful of both the food items, and the water and energy used in production.
Promote recycling and reusing items e.g.   through SWAP markets for children’s clothing, toys and books.
Energy
Turn off computers and/or screens when   not in use.
Turn off computers and electrical   equipment before leaving the building.
Install and use ceiling fans instead of   air conditioning, when appropriate.
Close doors and windows when heating or   air conditioning the building where possible, while maintaining adequate   ventilation. Strategies must be developed for indoor-outdoor programs to   enable this to occur.
Turn off fridges that are not in use during   extended holiday periods (ensure no food remains and the fridge is cleaned   well beforehand).
Turn lights off when not required.   Install light sensors where possible.
Upgrade old appliances with energy   efficient appliances.
Water
Install 5,000–20,000 litre water tanks   and consider connecting these to toilets.
Set limits for water use during play,   while acknowledging that water play is important and that children need to   use water in order to learn how to conserve it.
Ensure that water from troughs and bowls   is reused to water the garden.
Use grey water (containing low   salt/phosphate detergents) to water grass and gardens when children are not   in attendance at the service.
Install water saving taps in children’s   bathrooms.
Install dual flush toilets.
Place buckets or watering cans next to   drink stations to collect excess water.
Biodiversity
Grow food crops in vegetable gardens.
Plant fruit trees.
Grow a diverse range of plants, and   develop children’s understanding of how plant diversity encourages animal   diversity.
Grow indigenous (native) and water-wise   plants.
Water plants in the play space using   recycled water where possible. Plants are a precious resource for the planet   and should be protected and nurtured.
Transport
Encourage staff to walk, cycle or catch   public transport to work and on excursions, where possible.
Create prominent, effective spaces for the   storage of bikes and prams to promote riding and walking to staff and   families.
Curriculum
Role-model sustainable practices and   behaviours. Actions such as reusing water from a sink and switching off   lights when not in use can have a large impact on young children, who are at a   formative stage with respect to skills and attitudes.
Aim to counteract the ‘throwaway’ mentality   that children experience everyday in relation to waste.
Take every opportunity to talk with young   children about sustainable practices, and encourage older children to take   part in these practices.
Assign roles such as water, waste and   energy monitors to children within the service (consider providing them with   badges and charts appropriate to their role). Children are often vigilant at   monitoring the behaviour of their peers.
The   curriculum offers many opportunities to explore sustainable issues and   practices. The following are some suggestions.
  • Create an ‘earth hour’ each day where no lights/minimal lighting   is used e.g. during rest, relaxation or sleep times.
  • Use a range of pictures, books and stories that address   environmental sustainability issues.
  • Have waste-free days.
  • Use improvised, recycled and natural materials for program   activities.
  • Examine damaged household appliances and explore whether they can   be repaired.
  • Play a recycling game to promote an understanding of items that   can be recycled.
  • Investigate alternatives to texta pens and liquid paint, such as   powder paint and refillable markers or pencils.
  • Join Environmental Education in Early Childhood (EEEC) for more   ideas.
Family and community involvement
Inform families about this policy and the   service’s approach to environmental sustainability through information   sessions, photo displays and newsletters etc.
Design a poster outlining the key   principles of environmental sustainability, for display in the foyer of the   service. This may include a charter of principles and key targets to be   achieved.
Become involved in community events such   as Earth Hour, World Environment Day and Clean Up Australia Day.