Green Living Champions - Box Hill High School

We talk with local residents who have embraced environmentally friendly lifestyles and practices, and invited them to give their tips on how you can do the same!

Box Hill High School, on track to be a sustainable school community

“Sustainability education is one of the most valuable resources we have, so the best thing we can do is to educate our young people about climate change and living sustainably”, says Rebecca Kertes, Box Hill High School’s Sustainability Coordinator.

Box Hill High School (BHHS) has a Sustainability Club which is made up of a small group of dedicated staff and students who meet once a week to discuss and plan initiatives around the school to improve sustainability in the BHHS community. They recently ran their second annual Sustainability Week, which included activities such as a beeswax wrap workshop, a recycled paper workshop, a plant-based bake sale, and a second-hand clothes-free dress day and fashion parade. 

With over 1450 students and staff at the school, waste is a big challenge. “A big focus for our Club over the last two years has been reducing waste in our school and trying to implement better waste management processes. We are currently working towards composting in the school”, said Rebecca. They received a $1000 Community Grant from Council to use towards buying equipment for composting, including compost tumblers and small kitchen caddies. “We are initially using them in the canteen and food tech classrooms, with the long-term goal to have them all around the school”. 

Something else the school community has been learning about is the effect of car idling (sitting in your car with the engine running) around the school. “Last year our Club participated in a Monash University Global Challenges research study into car idling outside schools. Our staff and students helped to collect and analyse data on how our students travel to and from school, and how many/how long parents idle in their cars when picking up their children from school. The resulting data showed the effect of idling in terms of CO2 emissions and decreased air quality in our school environment. We communicated these findings to the school community in a hope to raise awareness that every little bit counts – even something as simple as turning your car engine off for the 5 minutes you wait for your child”, said Rebecca. 

Rebecca shared some great tips for other organisations and schools to try: 

  1. We highly recommend that schools join the Resource Smart Schools program run by Sustainability Victoria (and Eastern Alliance Sustainable Learning). 
  2. Teamwork! There is so much potential in schools and workplaces for improving sustainability, but it is a big job and the more helping hands you can get the better.
  3. Do some research - there are so many amazing resources out there to help you on your sustainability journey.
  4. Celebrate the wins! It is easy to get overwhelmed by climate anxiety, but that just means it’s even more important to celebrate the little things.

Rebecca also has some ideas of what we can all be doing at home:

  1. Avoid fast fashion – shop at op shops or markets, vintage clothing, and upcycled clothes. Eating a more plant-based diet.
  2. Get involved at your school or workplace – if they don’t have a sustainability club/green team then start one!
  3. Talk to your friends/family/neighbours/everyone about sustainability. 
  4. Think about how you get around – could you walk/ride a bike/catch the train to school or work instead of driving?
  5. Reduce single-use plastics – use fabric shopping bags, keep cups, wax wraps, mesh vegetable bags etc.