Stories of environmental issues on the news can feel overwhelming; but Kapiti College students are finding ways to care for their local environment, with immediate rewards.
“Going out there and cleaning up the effect of littering makes you more conscious of what the effect actually is, because you’re out there picking it up, and I always feel so challenged to be better myself in the future,” says Year 13 student Natasha Polglase.
The students feel very passionate about preventing the damage that comes as a result of human generated debris, in particular the devastation that plastic can have on our marine life. They believe we can make a difference and that we can start right here where we live.
“When you hear about all the littering on the news, off coast oil spills, any sort of accidents off the coast in the middle of the sea, it feels a bit removed, since you’re not out there seeing any of the effects. But when you go out and do a beach clean-up, it brings everything in to your perspective,” says Year 12 student Rowan Knight.
The group’s focus this year has been on keeping our beaches clean; for the past three years they have organised beach clean ups each term. The latest, at Raumati Beach, coincided with Seaweek and the February polystyrene ball pollution spill. A group of pre-schoolers, students and adults collected polystyrene balls that were still stuck in the retaining wall of the Wharemauku Stream.
“Regular beach clean ups are a positive way to bring members of our communities together,” says teacher Nicola Easthope, who leads the Eco Action Group. “We often time the clean-ups for after a storm, when plastic and aluminium foil-type rubbish collects in the driftwood and river remains that get strung out along the high tide line. Next time, we want to clean up at Paraparaumu Beach, to compare the quantities of waste with our regular Raumati Beach site. We welcome members of the public to join us.”
The Eco Action group, formed as part of Kāpiti College’s Enviroschool programme, meets regularly to discuss sustainability and plan actions on issues that concern them. As well as the beach cleanups, the group has regular garden working bees at the school māra kai/edible garden and orchard where they farm worms, raise vege seedlings and grow produce for baking.
Other recent projects include paper recycling with Paper 4 trees, making handmade paper; planting native trees at the Aquatic Centre; designing the logo for the Kāpiti Biodiversity Project and speaking at the launch; holding stalls at Matariki and Christmas markets; promoting the Unmask Palm Oil campaign for mandatory labelling on products; participating in the 2015 People's Climate March in Wellington, and screening environmental themed films such as ‘Thin Ice’ and ‘The Clean Bin Project’.
For information on upcoming cleanups, and other events, contact firstname.lastname@example.org