National Recycling Week from 13 to 19 November is high on the radar for Cire as it continually looks at how it can do more and better and celebrates what it has achieved to date.
One of the core values in Cire’s 2023-2027 Strategic Plan is Sustainability and our commitment “to ensuring the economic, environmental and social impacts on our community are considered in all that we do”. Sustainability is Cire’s organisation-wide theme for 2023 which incorporates fostering and embedding a culture of reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Based on its very model, Cire’s First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE) is a flagship in the recycling space, while Cire Early Learning (CEL) is embedding a great sense of responsibility among young learners with creative initiatives across its services. CEL is creating a groundswell of young recycling warriors who will be the future decision-makers.
A core part of the FICE program is to make quality second-hand clothing accessible to vulnerable women and others. FICE’s upcycling workshops, funded through Sustainability Victoria, are creatively transforming donations otherwise unfit-for-purpose into items of use.
Renee Cooke, Pre-Accredited and Reconnect Coordinator, said FICE had received a total of 2.7 tonnes in donations so far this year. Just under a tonne has been unfit-for-purpose and redirected to the upcycling workshops, local shops, and charities.
Meanwhile, CEL has an ever-growing list of how it engages children in recycling and thinking about sustainability.
Educators, children, and their families constantly bring household items such as cardboard rolls and boxes, other bits and pieces for repurposing, and old saucepans and spoons for the sandpit.
At Chirnside Park, there are no longer bins in the kinder room, and children take home any rubbish to limit waste at the service. Children are encouraged to have Nude food in containers. There is also a sustainability staycursion with Yarra Ranges Council visiting the kinder and the children visiting ECOSS to learn about planting vegetables and composting.
At Yarra Junction Out of School Hours Care, which serves 10 local primary schools, some of the initiatives include:
- using surplus craft and other materials such as cereal and tissue boxes for all kinds of creative projects and building and also Christmas decorations
- consciously avoiding the purchase of items such as glitter and balloons
- sharing resources with the ECEC services
- accessing supplies from Resource Rescue , a Bayswater North based non-profit organisation that collects rejects, seconds and factory offcuts for distribution to the community.
- helping clean up the school grounds – sweeping up leaves and adding them to the compost heap
- making insect traps from existing materials
- crafting heat packs for winter from old socks
- lots of conversations around nature and its importance.
Other recycling and sustainability initiatives Cire-wide include:
- Cire is part of the Good360 network, which matches surplus new goods with charities to minimise what goes into landfills and ensure they go to those most in need. Since joining the network in early 2019, Cire has distributed goods with a recommended retail value of $619,355.
- Thanks to GreenChair™, a sustainable furniture and goods repurposing program, Cire repurposed 30 items through a recent distribution, resulting in a significant landfill diversion of 1,405 kg. Taking it further in technical terms, this translates to 5.0 t CO2e saved.
- Cire supports/promotes Wandin Rotary’s regular battery drive, which helps with the responsible disposal/recycling of larger batteries, i.e. car batteries.
- Cire has specific waste/recycling bins at its sites.
- As part of its Science Week program earlier this year, Cire Early Learning (Yarra Junction) focused on recycling with the children using all kinds of recycled materials to experiment with resources in creative and innovative ways.
- In addition, and through an overall sustainability lens, Cire has had solar panels installed at Yarra Junction Community Hub and various energy-efficient upgrades at several sites, including reverse cycle air conditioning units at the Yarra Junction Hub and Cire Community School.
Launched by Planet Ark, National Recycling Week aims to raise awareness about recycling and the waste hierarchy, which includes reducing, reusing, and recycling to minimise the strain on finite resources, reducing what goes into landfills and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.