St Joseph's Primary School

St Joseph’s Primary turns waste into reward

St Joseph’s Primary School in West Kempsey has a long history of embedding environmental and sustainability programs in their classrooms and around their grounds. From an active student-led Enviro Team, to vegetable gardens and a growing sustainability recycling “hub”, the students and teachers are always looking for new ways to examine current practices within the school and to develop opportunities for educating the school community about environmental issues.

Since the beginning of Term 4 2018 the school has embraced the Return and Earn program as their next sustainability endeavor to reduce litter, access valuable recycling systems and incentivise students through fundraising.

Bins were placed around the school grounds and it was agreed that in order to incentivise the new behavior of separating out eligible containers, all funds raised would be split between each grade for use however they chose at their end of year celebration.

“At a time when there has been a lot of uncertainly with bushfires, having something like this to look forward to is really helping to lift our student’s spirits and motivate them to recycle right” says teacher, Michelle Tarrant.

Eligible containers are sorted each week by members of the Enviro Team and stored at the school. At the end of each term, Mrs. Tarrant returns approximately 1600 containers to the automated depot in Coffs Harbour during her school holiday break.

“By the end of 2019 the school raised over $700 through the Return and Earn program to be shared by our 300 students during their end of year celebrations.” Mrs. Tarrant said. “In future, we may use the funds to invest in other projects on school grounds or further sustainability projects but for now we’re enjoying the opportunity to reward students for making a good choice for the planet.”

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St Joseph’s Primary School is a proud member of Sustainable Schools NSW, a free program run by the Australian Association for Environmental Education, NSW Chapter.

Find out how your school can raise funds and recycle through Return and Earn at