Theodore Primary School: Enviro Champion Runner-Up

Theodore Primary School P&C has been recognised for its recycling efforts, receiving the runners-up award in the Canberra Times ACT CDS Enviro Champion – Schools Award.

Students were already deeply engaged in learning about sustainability. Dedicated recycling bins and sustainability is part of everyday life at the school, helping teach the next generation about caring for our planet and becoming environmental superheroes.

Recycling through the ACT Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) is a key part of the school’s sustainability efforts governed by a student-led Ministry of the Environment established at the school. Container collections were started as a fundraising activity while also teaching students about environmental issues.

“We are mindful that lots of families are doing it tough financially with the cost of living increasing, and a lot of the other fundraisers involve extra costs for families. Our P&C was looking for inclusive fundraising initiatives and this seemed to tick all the boxes,” said Meg Lennard, Theodore Primary School P&C President.

“At our school, all our Year 5 and 6 students are part of our Student Parliament and they each work as part of a Ministry.

“Our Ministry of Environment students are always looking at ways to reduce waste. They often remind other classes about the importance of bringing in their containers to recycle. The students love seeing how full the bins and trailer get,” said Meg.

The school also runs competitions for students to guess how many containers are in each trailer load.

Many of the teachers have also embraced the cause, contributing their own containers from home and providing a positive example for students.

In less than one year, the school has returned more than 4,000 bottles and cans through the ACT CDS, earning the school $400 in refunds.

“We have used the funds to buy some giant sandpit toys for our junior school. We are now aiming for a set for the senior sandpit too,” said Meg.

Sustainability has always been a big part of Theodore Primary School and the students are highly aware of the importance of recycling.

“They are very good at reminding their parents when collections are on. Students of all ages often offer to pick up litter on the playground when they see it, and they are especially mindful of local birds and wildlife that could mistake litter for food.

“Both of my children have come home from school with a very positive attitude towards recycling and an understanding of how rubbish, recycling and reuse can impact the environment,” she said. 

The ACT CDS is a partnership between the ACT Government, scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator Return-It.