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Improving Recycling Rates in Local Schools

By By Alexa Bingham- Expedition Leader 1 year ago
Categories Fiji Islands

Inspiring children to act on recycling through knowledge, practice and ownership

GVI’s recycling project has been running in Dawasamu District since March 2014. In that time 10 recycling points have been constructed, 3 collections have been completed and in the last collection alone 2184kg of plastic, glass and paper waste were prevented from going to landfill. Recycling is vital in the small rural communities here where an increased use of plastic and other man-made products has quickly become a waste management issue as burn-pits and landfills become overrun. GVI’s work in this area is timely as Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama recently made a plea to Fijians to recycle following a record 75,000 tonnes sent to the island’s main landfill this year. National plans are in place to build a waste transfer station in the Central Division to separate recyclable waste and Dawasamu District has a unique opportunity to lead the way for other rural communities in Fiji.

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A vital aspect of any recycling programme is education and GVI have delivered presentations and workshops in villages and schools throughout the district. GVI’s recycling point monitoring surveys highlighted a particular issue in schools of rubbish being unwashed or incorrectly sorted. As children play a key role in recycling, being largely responsible for household waste disposal, it is necessary to nurture positive behaviours and spark interest.

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This month work in schools has focused on renovating recycling points with students invited to participate and leave their mark. GVI invited children to ‘Love your recycling point’ as pride in these recycling stations is the best way to ensure proper use and maintenance. Level-appropriate, interactive lessons on recycling and its impacts had children singing, designing, painting, chanting and building robots from tin cans. By practicing good behaviours through a physical recycling relay race children learnt how to use their facility. Fun signage included a lift-the-flap scene of a clean and messy village, a maze to depict decomposition times and alliterative animal bins. Elements were added to improve accessibility such as increasing the structure’s platform or coloured paths leading to coloured bins. Children were also invited to write a personal message about recycling on old bottles which were then strung into a fence. At Dawasamu Primary School this was followed by a grand opening ceremony so that teachers too could feel pride and responsibility for their new recycling point.

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These initial lessons will be followed next term by a full course on waste management tying in with the Fijian curriculum. GVI volunteers will deliver lessons on topics including: materials, decomposition, reducing waste, re-using and upcycling items, recycling, monitoring waste locally, national and global waste impacts, and pollution of soil, air and water. GVI will continue to monitor any improvements to washing and sorting recycling in schools as a result of these initiatives and aim to highlight successes within schools in local and international press. Dawasamu District schools have shown an impressive commitment to waste reduction and recycling which should be known and celebrated throughout Fiji.

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