Here is another great activity to set up at the start of the year. The start is the best as then *hopefully* what the students have learnt will be carried through the year!
For those of you who aren’t aware I live in South Australia (a state of Australia) and it is a wonderful place to live. Why? Because we have a container deposit scheme!
Now I know some of you are thinking: What on earth is she talking about?! So please, let me explain.
A Little History First
Since I was a little girl I have always known the value of a dollar. I did not come from a rich family with endless money – nope my family is a working class one – Dad was a timber-mill worker and Mum has done everything from working in the Woollen Mills, cleaning motels, delivering pamphlets…basically any bit of money coming in was welcome – especially with three children. We all learnt that saving was important. Enter the container deposits!
Since 1977 (the legislation was started in 1975) South Australia has had container deposits. Originally the refund amount varied depending on the size of the glass bottle – 20c-30c but when plastic came about it was reduced to a flat 5c. The 5c deposit was available for all flavoured milk and soft-drink containers and could be taken to a local recycling depot and they would give you back 5c for every container. Imagine our excitement when the deposit was increased to 10c in 2008.
This scheme was a win-win situation for South-Aussies. With a return rate of about 79% means that there is less rubbish in the bin and less being dumped illegally. A win for people and a win for the environment.
The exciting news for Aussies is that the Northern Territory has the same scheme (though it took a bit of back and forth to get it secured permanently). A few online petitions have also been successful as New South Wales will begin the scheme in July 2017 and Queensland stating a 2017/2018 introduction!
Wow! Now I’ve given you a bit of a history lesson you want to know why this is important for the classroom.
My first year as a teacher I noticed several worrying trends with young children. I was teaching Receptions-2 and would watched as the lunch orders would come in with flavoured milks – which were in turn drunk and dumped in the bin. All I could think was: You are throwing away 10c!
The second trend was the end of year class parties. This was something a few colleagues also mentioned was an issue. Firstly, the same kids would always have food to share, it would not always be the type they were asked to bring (sweet vs savoury), and there were always kids who turned up with nothing (more the lazy parent syndrome than anything else). It just wasn’t fair!
You Want It? You Earn It!
The following year I started by telling my students I would not be organising a class party (enter shocked looks!). I told them it would be their responsibility (this was a grade 1/2 class). They would need to, as a class collect 10c containers throughout the year which I would cash. They would need to keep track of the containers that came in everyday and add it to their tally at the back of their mathematics book. What they could have for a class party would solely depend on how much money they had to spend.
Get It Sorted!
The school I was at already had a compost and paper recycling scheme in place so I thought it best to do a lesson that covered all sorting!
I found these mini-bins (which resemble what we use) at the local Cheap as Chips store. They were actually for stationery supplies and only cost a couple of dollars each.
I made labels for the following bin types and then laminated and attached with Velcro:
Then I raided my own box of Barbie accessories – clothes, bags, drink containers…etc. Mum made me up some mini-printables of fast food packaging, milk and fruit-box containers – she specifically included flavoured and plain milk (because plain milk containers are not included in the refund – all containers that are have a statement on them). I got some mini craft glass containers, pick a few leaves and seeds, a few piece of scrap paper and plastic, fruit was represented by those food erasers you get at various cheap shops – let’s face it – anything I thought could be used. In all I had two jam-packed containers.
I had planned to use a book to introduce the sorting concept however the three books I had purchased did not cover, or explain, what I wanted the students to know very well. So we just discussed it.
We brainstormed a list of things we throw away and then discussed what we could do with them. Then, with the class sitting in an oval (we didn’t have space for a circle!) the bits and pieces were placed in the middle with the bins. Eyes light up and everyone wants to have a go! Great!
I drew names out of a box – each student managed to get two turns. It was interesting watching them choose which bin to put the item they picked up in. Students who didn’t agree with the choice could raise their hand and explain why. It was a really good peer-teaching activity!
Did It Work?
I have to say that yes, it worked. All students contributed something – even if it was just their milk container from lunch (or occasionally bailing up students in the yard and asking for their container when they were done – I did need to talk to them about not bin-diving. Yes, they were a keen bunch!
Over the 3 1/2 terms (about 35 weeks) the students raised just over A$120. They voted and decided on pizzas and had enough money to get garlic bread, a drink of their choice (water, flavoured milk or fruit juice – no soft drinks) and a dessert (most chose ice-creams). For the record the pizzas were delivered free of charge to the school by the local pizza shop.
The best part was that they even ended up with change of about A$12. They voted to buy kitty litter for our local animal shelter, South-East Animal Welfare League, who received three bags of kitty litter with lovely signs made by the kids.
The appreciated their class party so much more because it was their hard work that earned it. I am pleased to have been able to teach the students about being thrifty, saving, budgeting, life skills and appreciation.
The South Australian EPA is where I found the dates and general information about the deposit scheme.
My loyal blog readers will remember getting the labels for free! They have recently been updated to include Aluminium and E-Waste labels and also a set of matching display posters!
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