Angela Betts is thinking global and acting local as Thornlie’s Eco Warrior champion
Creating mini worm farms for families to take home is just one of many ways that MercyCare Thornlie Early Learning Centre Educator and Eco Warrior champion Angela Betts is sharing simple, yet impactful sustainable practices with the community outside the centre.
The idea for a mini worm farm came to Ms Betts as a way of helping children to show their families what was being done at the centre, and to keep the sustainability wave moving through the community.
Each jar-based mini worm farm contains healthy soil and a handful of earthworms, with veggie scraps sprinkled on the top.
When they are attending Thornlie, children learn to take care of worm farms and two chickens, Popcorn and Princess Leia, which together eat all the kitchen scraps and reduce green waste from going to landfill.
“It’s about embedding sustainable practices into everyday life,” Ms Betts explained. Children at the service are quick to volunteer to help maintain the vegetable and herb garden, which is watered using leftover water from meal times and, during wetter months, water from the onsite rain tanks is used.
Beyond just supporting the children to engage with sustainability, the Eco Warrior program aims to teach them that “every little action can make a big difference for our world.”
Taking on the role of Eco Warrior and sustainability champion for her service, Ms Betts explained, has helped shape her own approach to sustainability.
“I’ve never really delved into it until I became the Eco Warrior here at Thornlie,” she explained.
“Through learning a lot about sustainability and the environment, I’ve changed a lot of my own practices at home and I’ve become really passionate about it. I think the recycling aspect is the biggest thing I’ve taken away from it, so I’m using a lot less plastic at home.”
To continue the sustainability push, Ms Betts hopes to get families involved at home with a ‘take home’ eco bear, which will prompt families to think about what sustainable practices they can do in and around the home which can be shared with others.
“The bear will help them think about how they can be more sustainable at home and they will then bring those ideas back to the centre,” she explained.
“The idea of the bear is to see what families are doing at home in terms of helping the environment. One of the first families who’ve taken home the bear have told me about their child who starts picking up rubbish whenever they go to the park because (littering) is not good for our environment, and he learnt about that here at the centre.”
“So they’ll then share that experience back at the centre which other families can see and hopefully take on board themselves.”
Ms Betts says the children educating their families on sustainable, eco-friendly practices has been one of the biggest takeaways from the Eco Warrior program.
“We’ve definitely had parents say that their kids are schooling them on how to be more environmentally friendly,” she added.
“They’ll be using plastic in the kitchen and the child will point out that they’re using too much, or they’ll remind them to make sure the taps are turned off, so they’re definitely taking the lessons home.”
That, she continued, is one of the most rewarding parts of her role. “To see those small changes makes the biggest impact. We don’t have to be doing these big, grand projects, but it’s those little things that we can do that make a change.”
“It’s lovely to see the children become really passionate about caring for the environment, and for them to be making those changes to their lives now, they’re going to make a difference as they grow.”
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