What does it take to inspiremeaningful change?
The question of how one can make a difference in the world is a powerful one. When given the right focus, it can lead to actions that eventually inspire widespread transformation. Such was the question facing the young learners of Australia’s Parap Primary School. A whole-school approach to environmental sustainability led the school to form the Eco-School team to tackle environmental issues of every sort.
The Eco-Committee meets at least once a week to talk over pressing environmental issues, and the whole school is involved on some level to a commitment to action. Additionally, the student-led Eco-Warriors team has done everything from tree planting to building a sustainable eco-garden. But for the longest time the most pressing issue on their minds has been the need to reduce the amount of plastic and plastic bags in our community and the in world.
Where do we begin to transform?
On this particular occasion the Eco-Warriors decided something had to be done on a local level about the plastic polluting our oceans and harming marine life. “Parap Village markets run every Saturday, rain or shine,” explains Year 2 teacher Chelsea Collins. “Nearly every vendor pushes a single-use plastic bag. Students found this very distressing and this was their starting point.”
Using the Solution Fluency process, the Eco-Warriors began their quest by asking themselves how they could make a difference in the face of what they had discovered. That’s when they came across the innovative Boomerang Bags project, which provides a sustainable alternative to using plastic bags.
“The Boomerang Bags initiative offered the warriors a tangible alternative to plastic bags, and Solution Fluency a framework in which to do so,” Chelsea recalls. “The international initiative had not yet reached Territorian soil so we were all very excited to make our mark on the map.”
How do we plot apath to success?
The Eco-Warriors team worked with the Eco-Committee members and also the community at large, which involved sending request letters to collect everything they needed. The students produced a number of unique and creative prototype designs that went into construction.
They used recycled materials for their bags, and spent time deciding on the best screen printing colours and designing creative poster ideas. In addition to this, they found they weren’t alone in their quest to make a difference—others were just as keen on lending a hand as well.
“A team of hard working Super Mums and community members jumped on board to bring the dream to fruition,” says Chelsea. In addition to parental and community support, the local Chief Minister and other stakeholders pitched in to realize the Eco-Warriors’ vision.
Of course, Chelsea was amazed and excited with the results the students produced. “The initial goal was 300 bags, and bang—the goods were manifested and distributed in local businesses. To this date our collective have made 1,500 bags and growing.”