Persuasive presentation helps push for positive change

| By Enviroschools Otago team

After successfully lobbying the Council to support their Enviroschools journey students at this new Enviroschool in Otago continued their commitment toward positive change. They were aware of issues around waste management at their school and wanted to find out exactly what was happening and then propose some changes.

“Attractive packaging and advertising are designed to sell more products, convincing us that our deepest needs can be satisfied by buying even more things. But so often this results in waste. Excess packaging is thrown away immediately and products we do not really need may not be used for very long before they too become waste. Processed foods and fast foods tend to have more packaging than things made at home from basic ingredients and fresh produce.” – p 11 Enviroschools Zero Waste Theme Area Resource

The Mount Aspiring College students found the 3 case studies about waste reduction in Auckland very useful (see links to these below) in helping them prepare for a presentation to the board.

Team Green started working on this issue pre-Covid and are now picking up momentum again and very disappointed that they have lost ground with the canteen in that they can’t bring their own containers again. This is one of the solutions that Team Green are advocating for change.

“I am really inspired by this small, but very proactive Envirogroup and I am also impressed by the new Principal Nicola Jacobsen who has really responded to their concerns along with the very supportive board. I think the school, in general, is going through a positive phase of change where the profile of sustainability is being enhanced. It is great to walk, at a distance, alongside them on their journey.” – Enviroschools Facilitator, Damian Foster

Below is a version of what Team Green, the Envirogroup at Mount Aspiring College in Wānaka, presented to the BOT about the waste issue at the school with their ideas for how to address this issue, along with a copy of their presentation: 2022_ES_Otago_Mt Aspiring_ student presentation_Waste Minimisation at MAC

Why are we here?

RECYCLING and waste management at Mount Aspiring College is NOT working; We are here on behalf of Team Green and our Grounds team of which Graham spends around 3.5 hours of his day collecting rubbish.

We would like to show what we have tried, what we can suggest and why we need support from you.


In 2020 Team Green initiated a drain cleaning project, where we cleaned out all the school drains; we extracted lots of rubbish from each drain. Here is our youtube video link about the project if you are interested: Drain Cleaning Project] Drain Cleaning Project – YouTube

The same year Team Green held free beeswax wraps workshops; a drain art design competition and secured a BYO container deal with the canteen (which is no longer supported by the canteen) to attempt to increase awareness and provide alternatives.

This year we focused again on waste at our school. In term 1 we collected discarded food waste for one week around the school grounds (with the help of the caretaker) and found approximate 4 kg of food waste on the ground each day (and lots of litter too).

In Term 2 we conducted a waste audit. Together with caretaker, Graham, we emptied:

1 yellow recycling bin and 1.5 rubbish bins, which we collected from the school ground and sorted them into:

  • food waste
  • recycling and
  • rubbish

The yellow recycling bin contained:

  • 10 kg food waste
  • 3kg recycling (now contaminated)
  • 8kg rubbish/waste

The rubbish bins contained:

  • 14kg food waste
  • 4kg recycling
  • 25kg rubbish/waste


Revealing the truth about waste habits at the school.

waste is sorted into categories.












Mixed waste.

Waste sorted into categories for weighing and recording.










What do we need to change?

  • If recyclables are put together with food waste, they are contaminated and won’t end up being recycled
  • The school pays Allwaste an average of $835/month for waste disposal
  • The school CANTEEN contributes to a lot of rubbish, that ends up in landfill/on the school grounds, by selling wasteful, packaged items: Iced tea plastic bottles, cans of fizzy drinks, cling film food items, hot chip cups which are not recyclable, plastic wrapped ice blocks etc.

If the CANTEEN is run by the school, the Board has a direct input into what can be sold and reduce the waste produced on site! Is this correct?

  • COMPOSTING on site would reduce the amount of food waste that goes to landfill; this is an easy and effective way of putting carbon back into the soil instead of increasing the Greenhouse Gas Emissions; the school needs to come up with a good system to collect food waste and divert food waste going to landfill.
  • More education also about what can go into the recycling bin at school is needed.

How do we make everyone care?

Students identified the connections between their school kaupapa, vision and values that directly link to care for the environment and asked, “The wording is in our School Vision and Values but how are we upholding these?”

Our ideas/ what we need from the BoT

  • All staff and students need to be involved in waste management.
  • We want MAC to come up with a specific mission statement and the school board to set a strategic goal and targets around waste minimisation at school just as other schools in the country already have done.


  • Go waste free (no bins at school) just like the Primary Schools and Early Learning Centres in Wānaka (this is Ronnie’s preference).
  • Have better signage on bins (easy / fool proof/ encouraging) so everyone knows exactly what goes in which bin.
  • Canteen audit: create less waste within the school by changing what is sold in our canteen. Who is responsible for this?
  • Education at staff meeting, whanau and assembly: Waste/ recycling Quizzes, Guest Speakers at assembly, visit Wastebuster etc.
  • Have composting bins around the canteen / food tech department and field and a composting system on site.

The waste minimisation at school needs to be MANAGED FROM THE TOP – leading it and having clear expectations

Auckland Council Wastewise Case Studies include: One Tree Hill, Western Springs College and Sancta Maria College.

Credit must go to the Team Green students and to Sarah Jane (key teacher) and Chrissi (support staff) for committing to this kaupapa.

Enviroschools Facilitator Damian was at the meeting and was impressed with the case they put together.

“Kia Ora Team Green, I just wanted to write and congratulate you on your amazing presentation to the school board this week. You made a really strong case, and it was received very well by the board. Ian Hall (BoT Chair) was definitely impressed by what you had to share, and we all heard him commit to taking action. I thought the other board members were really pleased to hear what you had to say, and I have heard from one board member who said the board spoke at length about what you had to share. I think Nicola (Principal) would have been very proud of the hard work you did in preparation and how well thought out and persuasive your presentation was.” – Enviroschools Facilitator, Damian Foster