“Solway Primary School recognises the importance of becoming a sustainable school for the benefit of the planet’s environmental health.”
Solway Primary School is a leading sustainability model for all schools across both Victoria, and all of Australia. Seeing the importance of managing resource efficiency and integrating sustainable practices through the school community, Solway now has 5 Star Accreditation through Resource Smart Schools. RSS is a Victorian Government initiative that helps schools benefit from embedding sustainability in everything they do. Read more about Resource Smart Schools just here, and where you can start this journey!
As Solway embarked on the sustainable journey, Lona Parry along with other passionate parents started the works in finding the best way to start this process. Now a Director at So-Eco for Schools, Lona explains how it all started and where they are today. “My journey really started when I was a parent at Solway Primary School,” she explains. “The school had no sustainability at the time. A group of like minded, very passionate parents and I wanted to introduce sustainability at the school. In 2008, we approached the principal and she was really supportive of setting up a sustainability committee, which we did, and we had about 18 parents and 3 teachers on board. From there, we signed up to ResourceSmart Schools.”
Today, with sustainability policies fully embedded, Student Green Teams driving initiatives and parents actively engaged, Solway has achieved the top accolade in Sustainability Victoria’s ResourceSmart Schools, becoming 1 of only 26 schools across Victoria to achieve 5 Star accreditation.
“There were really positive messages coming the whole time about how we needed to change our habits from simply popping it in one landfill bin to now a number of waste streams. We went from one to ten waste stream systems. That was fantastic effort by the school community. We effectively reduced our landfill cost by 50%”
“Like most schools, we wanted to tackle waste first, it was a real priority for us because it was very visible around the school yard in terms of litter. Also, the students were really keen to implement recycling at the school. They couldn’t understand why they were recycling at home but not at school. Next, we needed to understand what waste we had at the school already. We just had one waste stream which was entirely land fill. We undertook assessments and audits to understand what components we could actually take out and put towards recycling.”
“I think in any school, sustainability has to be led by the students.”
“It’s really their school,” says Lona about the students. “They need to lead the sustainability change. Making them environment captains and giving them roles of responsibility and leadership opportunities, that’s really important for any school. The students were given those opportunities to lead, to be creative with their own ideas, they stepped up. They led all our sustainability initiatives, they’re the ones that really made it happen, they’ve embedded it in the culture of the school. There’s not one student here that does not understand how important it is to be a sustainable school and what the right thing to do is.”